Saltwater intrusion threatening Central Coast groundwater

Aug 4, 2014

A new report released Monday by the Groundwater Voices Coalition shows some Central Coast water supplies could be rendered useless if current conditions persist.

California's groundwater levels have been dropping for years but the recent drought has escalated the issue, and now seawater contamination is a growing threat to our supply on the Central Coast. 

Kate Williams from the California Water Foundation says it's normal to rely on groundwater during dry years, but this drought has caused people to rely solely on it, leading to things like over-pumping.

According to the report, the Central Coast uses groundwater for more than 80 percent of its water supplies, making it the most basin-reliant region in the State. Forty percent of those basins are considered "high" or "medium" priority as they relate to groundwater demand.

In blue are the selected locations of selected groundwater basins on the Central Coast
Credit California Water Foundation, groundwatervoices.com

Anthony Saracino, an author of the report, says because the region's economy relies heavily on agriculture, seawater intrusion could have lasting effects.

"So the impact on ag has been significant and if continued unabated will be really profound on both the ability to grow various crops and certainly the economy of the Central Coast," Saracino said. 

Currently there are two bills in Sacramento being amended to address the issue. They will "give locals new tools and authorities so they can better manage groundwater in their local areas," Williams says.