Groundwater overdraft in California's Central Coast Region

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A watershed-related issue examined by the ENVS 560/L Watershed Systems class at CSUMB.


The high dependence on groundwater for agricultural water needs in the Salinas Valley has led to critical overdraft conditions[1] that have resulted in abandonment of agricultural and urban supply wells due to rising salinity levels[2] in the aquifers. Over 524 thousand acre-feet of groundwater was extracted during the 2014 water year, 91.55% of which went to agricultural use and 8.45% for urban use.[3] Groundwater overdraft can lead to numerous problems such as seawater intrusion, aquifer storage reduction, loss in groundwater quality, and lowering of water levels.[4] The concern over these adverse effects has led to the development of a statewide groundwater management plan[5] and new supplemental water supplies from the Salinas Valley Water Project.


  1. California Department of Water Resources, 2016. Critically Overdrafted Basins.
  2. Salinas Valley Water Project Description
  3. Monterey County Water Resource Association Groundwater Extraction April 2017 Summary Report
  4. California Ag Water Stewardship Initative on Groundwater Management
  5. California Department of Water Resources: Sustainable Groundwater Management



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