The farming town of Corcoran, California, has been slowly sinking by two feet every year for the past decade as farms pump water underground to irrigate crops.
Located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, the The 7.47 square mile city has a total population of 21,960 and has sunk 11.5 feet in the last 14 years.
The sinking is a result of oneAccording to the USGS California Water Science Center, farms have been pumping water underground for decades to irrigate their crops.
Although Corcoran has sunk about four feet in certain areas since 2015, it is predicted that the city will sink another two to three meters in the next two decades. New York Times reported.
Drinking water well housings have been crushed, floodplains have shifted and the city The levee had to be rebuilt at the cost of $ 10 million, raising residents’ property taxes about $ 200 a year for three years.
The small town of Corcoran (pictured), located in California’s San Joaquin Valley, has a total population of 21,960 and has sunk 3.5 meters in the last 14 years
The farming village of Corcoran, California, has been slowly sinking for 14 years as farms continue to pump water underground to irrigate crops
For generations, farmers have turned to pumping groundwater – water below the Earth’s surface – when they can’t get enough surface water from local rivers or canals.
Yet despite the negative effect it has on the area, residents and leaders in the agent-dominated city have chosen to downplay or ignore the city’s demise.
Few in Corcoran are eager to criticize farms that provide jobs in a struggling region for helping to create an unknown geological problem that no one can see, the New York Times reported.
“It’s a risk to us,” Mary Gonzales-Gomez, a lifelong resident of Corcoran and chair of the Kings County Board of Education, told the NYT. ‘We all know that, but what are we going to do? There is really nothing we can do. And I don’t want to move. ‘
The sinking has even altered the town’s landscape, creating what is known as the ‘Corcoran Bowl’, an area amidst the agricultural fields in and near Kings County that sometimes stretches for up to 60 miles.
The bowl is the area of deep subsidence in the country, with Corcoran in the middle, the Times reported.
Jay Famiglietti, a former senior scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, helped discover the bowl and has been warning of serious sinking in the area since 2009 based on satellite imagery.
Scientists at the NASA lab have been monitoring soil subsidence there and elsewhere in the San Joaquin Valley for years using radar and satellite technology, NYT reported.
“You can’t ignore it,” Famiglietti told the Times. ‘The bowl of the bowl created by the pumping is large, which is why people may not perceive it. But a careful analysis would reveal that a lot of infrastructure could be compromised. ‘
But the infrastructure has already been damaged, prompting the Corcoran Irrigation District to install three lifting stations to pump water through ditches.
The water used to run by gravity only, but the sinking caused subsidence in the trenches and caused the water to pool rather than flow through it, so the district had to spend $ 1.2 million in 10 years on lift stations to get the water To push forward costs paid for by farmers, the NYT reported.
Yet despite its effect on the city, residents and leaders in the ‘agent’ dominated city of Corcoran have chosen to downplay or ignore the city’s demise.
Although Corcoran (pictured) has sunk about four feet in certain areas since 2015, it is predicted that the city will sink another two to three meters in the next two decades.
In addition, there was the embankment that was rebuilt in 2017 for $ 10 million.
The levee had sunk from 50 meters when it was built in 1983 to 188 meters in 2017, the NYT reported.
“Our residents have been hit hard,” Dustin Fuller, the director of the Cross Creek Flood Control District told the Times.
In addition to the higher property tax, some residents were forced to take out flood insurance for the first time.
To make matters worse, several large farms surround Corcoran, which have hundreds of wells that draw water from the flat, fertile fields surrounding the town.
Operations include Sandridge Partners, the JG Boswell Company, Hansen Ranches, the Vander Eyk Dairies, and many others and it is nearly impossible to determine how much underground water is being pumped through farms as California does not require that information to be made public.
And as the California drought continues, it will sink, too.
Due to severe drought, farmers have to pump up more groundwater to make up for the shortage of surface water.
That happened during California’s last protracted drought, from 2012 to 2016, when land in Central Valley sank at a high rate, the Times reported.
Karla Nemeth, the director of the state’s Department of Water Resources, told the NYT that excessive groundwater pumping and its effect on Corcoran were issues to consider.
“Corcoran’s plight is the absolute poster child for legacy unattended groundwater pumping that is unacceptable in California and that ultimately gave rise to it,” Nemeth said.
Corcoran isn’t the only area in the United States to be sinking.
The Houston-Galveston area of Texas has been sinking since the 1800s, while parts of Arizona, Louisiana, and New Jersey are also facing subsidence issues.
The foundations of churches in Mexico City are famously tilted, and a 2012 study found that Venice was sinking at a rate of 0.07 inches per year, the Times reported.