(CBS SF) — Parts of California are sinking even faster than previously thought. New research from NASA shows the ground in parts of the Central Valley is sinking nearly two inches a month, or two feet per year.
The drought is playing a big role in the ground collapsing. California’s farmers are pumping groundwater as fast as they can, in order to keep their crops alive during the drought.
But when this much water is pumped out of the aquifer below ground, the clay between the pockets of water collapses and the ground starts to deflate.
The sinking land is buckling the walls of irrigation canals, damaging pipes, creating giant sink holes and even cracking homes.
“When that clay soil starts shrinking and going away, the foundation follows, especially on the older homes,” said Gary Wake of Wake Construction.
Every six weeks, a state hydrologist measures how much the ground has sunk. The hydrologist said California has among the highest rates ever measured around the world.
There are no signs of the situation improving anytime soon. According to NASA’s satellite data, the state has lost 16 trillion gallons of water in the past four years. That’s enough to fill Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the country, twice.