In California, some wells are starting to spit out sand instead of water, as farmers drill deeper in search of groundwater to farm their thirstiest crops

In California, drought conditions are pushing farmers, the state’s thirstiest water users, to drill deeper in search of groundwater. As a result, people and businesses with shallower wells are watching them go dry. In some cases, their pumps now spit out sand instead of water. For The Atlantic, Mark Arax trails a well fixer as he repairs water pumping infrastructure that no longer works; in some cases, well casings are getting crushed by the pressure of the ground sinking as water gets pumped out from it. These are just short-term fixes, the well contractor tells his customers, many of whom grow water-intensive crops like nuts. At some point, he warns, California will need to contend with its depleting groundwater resources, such as by idling farmland: “Otherwise, we’re looking at a race to the bottom.”

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