Connie Warren: First drought of many?

July 7, 2014 

Is this really a drought?

When my family moved to our 20-acre ranch northwest of Merced in 1957, the well we drew our water from was 50 feet deep. I don’t know what level the pump was, or if it was lowered at any point after we moved there, but we used that well until the late ’70s, when it went dry and my folks had a 100-foot well drilled. The pump in the new well was initially set at 80 feet, then in 1985 it was dropped to the bottom.

In early 2009, when the wells of my friends and neighbors were going dry, I had the well checked and found the pump was partly above water at very close to 100 feet. I was proactive (also known as “biting the bullet”) and had a new, 270-foot well drilled, setting the new pump at 200 feet. I figured that would last my lifetime and my heirs could deal with whatever came next.

Given all the articles and letters about the dropping water table in the San Joaquin Valley, I’m no longer sure it will be someone else’s problem.

We should consider the possibility that we are not dealing with a drought or series of droughts. Perhaps the last 100-plus years were an unusually wet period, and 4 inches of rain per year is actually the norm. Given the slow speed of most geologic change, and ignoring the climate change debate, it’s possible we will spend another 100 years bouncing from 4 to 12 inches of rain a year. But I wouldn’t bet the rent on it.

Connie Warren, Merced

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