Looming Impact of Groundwater Quality Degradation on Our Rural Municipal Water Supply and Ag Lands: Not a Technical Issue but a Political and Financial Issue
City of Firebaugh
For a rural community in the fruit basket of the world, its groundwater and surface water resources are critically important for both the municipal government and the agricultural economy supporting the community. The drinking water system of the city of Firebaugh in western Fresno County depends on groundwater and surface water. Groundwater quality is degrading while access to surface water is becoming increasingly more difficult because of natural droughts and man-made droughts (regulatory droughts). Political and financial issues severely limit our ability to implement technical solutions to the water shortage, which has caused the fallowing of thousands of acres and 40 percent unemployment. The drought further compounds an ongoing water crisis in this region, including agricultural drainage impacts to water quality, land subsidence, flooding, water quality degradation, groundwater recharge, and surface water conveyance issues. In addition, energy costs associated with pumping, conveyance and water treatment are burdens on the community. Our region produces 10 percent of the nation?s crops and if these issues are not remediated our country will indeed face national food security worries and communities like this one will dry up.