My wife Kathy and I live on Horseshoe Road near Knights Ferry. My wife’s family purchased the Horseshoe property in the 1940s and operated a grade A dairy farm for many years. The Horseshoe property passed to my wife, we then sold our Orange Blossom road ranch and move to Horseshoe Road. We invested heavily, building our dream home, new perimeter fences, pipe corrals, and seed stock to build a quality cattle ranch. We were then prepared to live out our retirement years in the bucolic surroundings of our ranch. That was to change.
Enter the stampede to plant almond trees. The pleasant country sounds were replaced with the clatter of a caterpillar tractor ripping the surrounding dry hills. This sound ran seven days a week almost for 24 hours each day.
I had an early concern for the negative effect of the groundwater pumping for the new orchards. In 2009 when our well needed repairs, I had the water level checked. I was told that my pump was in 30 feet of water and I should not worry. In 2011, I turned on a bathroom faucet and had no water. The pump was running but no water. The pump repair people came to lower the pump. I heard what you do not want to hear: “We cannot lower your pump as it is now on the bottom and the well is dry. You will need to drill a new well.”
We were fortunate as the current rush to drill had not started and we had our new well up and running in short order. The 2011 water table was at 97 feet; based on the 2009 measures we had lost 30 feet of water in two years. This year, my pump seemed to keep cycling so I had the water level measured and it was now at 111 feet. We have lost an additional 14 feet in 30 months.
It only seems reasonable that ALL ground water users need to conform to the regulations for monitoring and measurement of ground water use. Current and future drilling (other than for replacement of domestic wells) needs to cease until it can be determined that we are at a withdraw level that can be sustained.
Bill W. Smith