In San Diego County, Borrego Springs is a small desert town of 3,000 residents who are challenged with a water crisis that can’t sustain itself much longer. Having no feasible way to import water, Borrego Springs has relied on an underground aquifer to supply its golf courses, resorts and residents with water.
While approximately 1/3 of Borrego’s water supply goes to the latter, The LA Times say that farmers use 70% to 80% of the town’s water supply. More specifically, water reports show that the citrus and palm ranches in northern Borrego Springs are using massive amounts of water from the underground lake beneath their land. Many farmers grow water-sucking fruits such as grapefruit, lemons, tangerines, tangelos and palm trees. Most of these farmers have been in operation for more than half a century, and all of them have clear rights to the water beneath their land.
On average, Borrego’s main aquifer is replenished by nature each year with about 1.8 billion gallons of water, but for decades, the amount of water that has been pumped out has been far greater — most recently, 6.1 billion gallons annually.
LA Times shares, “It’s not that Borrego Springs is running out of water. There are, in fact, three aquifers beneath the valley, one atop the other. But as the water table drops, it becomes more and more expensive to pump water out of the ground. If nothing is done, the cost of pumping the water will eventually exceed any economically feasible rationale to continue living there or working the land.”
Could Borrego Spring’s “critical overdraft” crisis have something to do with the fact that extreme amounts of water are being pumped from underground to water golf courses? When will the county step up to make water conservation a priority? San Diego County and the Borrego Water District plan to find solutions by 2020 for their community, otherwise the state will take over.
Read more here.