Researchers may have found a solution for California’s water woes. Beneath California’s Central Valley there lies precious groundwater reservoirs waiting to be extracted. New research published in the journal PNAS says that nearly 10,000 feet below California’s surface, the region’s aquifers, areas deep underground where water can collect, have three times the usable groundwater as estimated in the past.
One problem researchers have noted is that in order to protect these precious resources of water, state officials must monitor the extraction of oil and gas, which could contaminate these untouched waters. According to TIME.com, “Nearly a third of oil and gas drilling sites are located near groundwater reservoirs, threatening the health of the water, according to the study.”
The ongoing California drought has led state officials to enact dramatic water conservation measures in hopes of preserving enough water to fuel the state’s agriculture sector and provide for its nearly 40 million residents. And, while the new study offers a potential solution, extracting water from such depths would not be easy. Deep drilling is costly and much of the water would likely be brackish—or salty—and require the installation of desalination facilities.
“No one is monitoring deep aquifers,” said study author Mary Kang, a Stanford researcher, in a press release. “We might need to use this water in a decade, so it’s definitely worth protecting.” (Thank-you, TIME.com)