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2018-07-19. The Water Wars of Arizona.

posted Jul 22, 2018, 7:39 PM by Alan Gould
By Noah Gallagher Shannon, The New York Times. For GSS Ecosystem Change chapter 4. Excerpt: Attracted by lax regulations, industrial agriculture has descended on a remote valley, depleting its aquifer — leaving many residents with no water at all. ...Most North American aquifers lie beneath the Western United States and date back to the beginning of the continent as we know it. Six million years ago, as the Rocky Mountains thrust upward, rivers gashed deep channels in the crust, separating ranges with basins that gradually filled with eroded rock, trapping water beneath it. ... Subject to eons of pressure, every aquifer arranges itself differently, forming vast networks of coves and seams of water, some a thousand feet thick but others just a thin vein. Aquifers are unimaginably complex and incredibly fragile; once tapped, they can take more than 6,000 years to replenish. ...Among the most vulnerable aquifers are those underlying the desert basins of the American Southwest. The Sulphur Springs Valley, in Arizona’s far southeastern corner, is one such basin. ...In geological terms, it is a “closed basin,” as none of its water rejoins a river. Instead, it pools at the center, percolating into the ground. Centuries of evaporation have transformed this ancient lake bed into a dry alkali flat, .... Beneath it, buried in layers of sediment, lies all the water that never flowed to the ocean. Some of it is more than 20,000 years old. ...When the corporate incursion to the valley began in earnest, in 2003 or so, local farmers had been mining the aquifer gently for the last 60 years. ...What drew Seitz’s interest, in 2010 or so, was the depth to which the farmers were drilling. ...When he saw people drilling down to 1,000 feet or 2,000 feet, Seitz knew straight away that moneyed operations intended to plant nut trees.... https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/19/magazine/the-water-wars-of-arizona.html