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Lawmakers Squabble Of Storage

Publication Date: 
August 12, 2014
Bakersfield Californian
Dean Florez

The Bakersfield California quotes Professor Barton "Buzz" Thompson on the importance of underground water storage in California.

On Tuesday, the California Legislature predictably gave itself another 48 hours to reach a water bond compromise, extending the time period needed to place revised language on November's ballot.

To be clear, there is already an $11 billion dollar water bond fix on the ballot, but it's opposed by Gov. Jerry Brown as too pork-laden to saddle Californians with a $750 million annual interest payment. Although the governor originally sought a $6 billion dollar replacement, he and Democratic leaders announced a newly minted $7.1 billion dollar compromise that awaits a response from Republicans, who have devised their own $8.7 billion solution. So why the holdup? What's preventing a deal?


Recently, Stanford law professor Barton Thompson pointed out that while surface reservoirs in California hold about 50 million acre feet of water, the state's underground aquifers have a combined capacity of about 850 million to 1.3 billion acre-feet which could provide three times the water storage at 50 percent less than building new storage facilities. Research also points to benefits beyond lower costs: "Evaporation losses are minimized. Rivers, streams and springs flow better. And by recharging aquifers, groundwater storage helps avoid or reduce many of the costs of groundwater overdraft, where pumping lowers groundwater tables by extracting more water out of the aquifer than is replenished."