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Subsiding San Joaquin Valley is no place to build a bullet train

Subsiding San Joaquin Valley is no place to build a bullet train
Cracked concrete on the Delta Mendota Canal near Los Banos is evidence that the ground in the San Joaquin Valley is sinking due to over pumping groundwater. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Subsidence in the San Joaquin Valley has been impacting infrastructure for years, and acceleration of subsidence due to increased groundwater withdrawal during a drought is not surprising. ("Another toll of the drought: Land is sinking fast in San Joaquin Valley, study shows," Aug. 19)

Now let's put two issues impacting California together: the subsiding ground in the San Joaquin Valley and the route of the bullet train. Can a train travel at 200 miles per hour on a track built on land subsiding at a monthly rate of 1.6 inches?

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In all of the planning and bravado about the bullet train, I have not heard or read of the short-term (construction) or long-term (maintenance) impact of subsidence. What's the plan and what are the costs, Gov. Jerry Brown?

Jeffrey R. Knott, Fullerton

The writer is a professor of geological sciences at Cal State Fullerton.

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To the editor: This drought has accelerated groundwater pumping, but California's groundwater has declined for more than 50 years, drought or not.

Maybe it's time to reduce demand for water by reducing immigration and letting Americans' low birthrate shrink the population. I know that anyone who suggests reducing immigration risks being labeled a racist, but how long can Californians survive recurring droughts if there are a few million more of us each time?

Since the drought of 1976-77, Californians have reduced per-capita water consumption by about half. That's remarkable in less than 40 years. But it's equally remarkable that the state's population has almost doubled.

We are worse off, with more people at risk and with less water. California isn't growing, only its human population is, and that is the one thing we humans can easily control.

Kenneth Pasternack, Santa Barbara

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To the editor: By the time groundwater regulation takes full effect some two decades from now, there will no longer be any groundwater left to regulate.

Frank King, Coronado

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