USGS study: Cuyama Valley groundwater is being rapidly depleted

Aug 14, 2014

Credit USGS

A new scientific federal study shows groundwater in Santa Barbara County's Cuyama Valley is being depleted two times faster than it's being replenished.

Groundwater is the sole source for agricultural, domestic and municipal water in the valley during dry periods, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). 

Scientist Randy Hansen is the lead author for the USGS study and says the water quality coming from the basin is not very good to begin with and over-pumping can make it worse.

"The waters in these aquifers are anywhere from a few thousand to over 30,000 years old," said Hansen. "So, these are very old waters that ware being extracted from these areas and when you start to pump those waters out you oxygenate them and what not, and that starts to activate arsenic and chrome and other things like that."

According to the study, an estimated 2.1 million acre-feet of groundwater have been depleted from storage in the Cuyama Valley aquifer system since 1949.