Year after year, Sacramento Valley groundwater is pumped out to replace surface water being sent south.
It’s been called an amoral practice and an unnecessary strain on a resource that is being depleted. It’s said the impacts are being swept under the rug so big business agriculture in the south can stay afloat during the drought.
But those allegations by conservation organizations against groundwater substitution transfers — one of the ways that water is moved across the state — have also been labeled generalizations by water managers who employ the practice.
They say groundwater substitutions are perfectly legal and often carefully studied to avoid negative impacts, and they are made possible by infrastructure improvements that have bolstered the groundwater basins, not hurt them.