By Vance Kennedy – 9/10/13
I was at a meeting yesterday at which Larry Byrd said that electric service to the foothills may need to be increased to service
the very large pumps being installed to mine groundwater for growing almonds. There are major policy questions to be addressed here:
1. These pumps will suck water from a large area of neighbors and wipe them out, thereby cutting off existing demand by those neighbors permanently.
2. The new large deep wells will require high-power lines, but will return money to MID to pay off those lines for a very limited number of years, depending on how long it takes to deplete the ancient ground water in the area. That groundwater, if similar to that in the foothills in Calavaras County, is in the range of 2,000 to 13,000 years old and will take many decades to replace, assuming present rainfall. If global warming reduces rainfall, a real possibility, it may take centuries. There is no way of knowing, so at least consider the worst and plan accordingly. Any wasted money for installing new high power lines to those very deep wells will be borne by other ratepayers and that is unfair to them.
When the groundwater is gone in the foothills, it will be essentially a permanent wasteland except in those areas where outside water can be imported. Does the general public really want that?
The best simile I can think of is a bus load of people headed for a cliff in the fog on automatic pilot. We already have several examples to the south and there are no rules to prevent a disaster due to human greed and lack of state laws.