Subsidence and costs.

I’ve been thinking about subsidence and the damage it does to infrastructure, like the Delta-Mendota Canal and Highway 5. You know what would be handy? A law saying that if the ground level drops some amount (like, say ten feet) due to subsidence, all groundwater pumping in that aquifer should be immediately stopped until the ground surface level above that aquifer comes back up.

Then I got to wondering who pays for the costs of infrastructure repair due to subsidence for overpumping. I bet the State Water Contractors pay for repairs to the Delta-Mendota Canal, so that strikes me as their own private business. But if I were CalTrans, I’d want someone to pay me back for the cost of repairs to Highway 5 and its overpasses. I think the people pumping groundwater so fast that they’re lowering the roadbeds would be good people to pay for the damages they cause to the roads of the state. Can’t see why the larger public should have to pay for that.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Subsidence and costs.

  1. RT

    Over in Santa Clara Valley, the water district has to ask well owners for money to keep the groundwater flowing, thanks to prop. 218:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_14711462

  2. onthepublicrecord

    Oooh, Prop 218. Boy do I ever hate Prop 218. I realize that I haven’t cursed Howard Jarvis’s name in a few days, so I should take a moment here to call him a state-breaking asshole.

  3. Mr. Kurtz

    Subsidence makes me crazy. Not only do the over-extractors cause all sorts of expense for everybody else, in the form of cracked highways and so forth; they are permanently ruining the ability of the aquifer to hold as much water again. To my mind this is like dumping some sort of toxic material. Simply owning property does not permit you to practice negligent waste, or any other crime. Aside from markets, underground storage is one of the few relatively benign and inexpensive ways to even out the out-of-sync demand and supply curves in California. The more good aquifers are wrecked or crippled, the harder underground storage becomes.

  4. The very concept of subsidence blows me away. Here we have to deal with it from longwall mining, and it’s an absolute outrage.

    WTF is wrong with people?