California Is Running Out Of Groundwater : Short Wave California is in the middle of a terrible drought. The rivers are running low, and most of its farmers are getting very little water this year from the state's reservoirs and canals. And yet, farming is going on as usual.

NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles explains how farmers have been using wells and underground aquifers to water their crops. But that's all set to change. California is about to put dramatic limits on the amount of water farmers can pump from their wells, and people have some pretty strong feelings about it.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

The Great California Groundwater Grab

The Great California Groundwater Grab

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1018806101/1019385729" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Overhead irrigation of this newly planted crop of carrots is putting pressure on the available groundwater supplies in Cuyama, California. Located in the northeastern corner of Santa Barbara County, the sparsely populated and extremely arid Cuyama Valley has become an important agricultural region, producing such diverse crops as carrots, pistachios, lettuce, and wine grapes. George Rose/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
George Rose/Getty Images

Overhead irrigation of this newly planted crop of carrots is putting pressure on the available groundwater supplies in Cuyama, California. Located in the northeastern corner of Santa Barbara County, the sparsely populated and extremely arid Cuyama Valley has become an important agricultural region, producing such diverse crops as carrots, pistachios, lettuce, and wine grapes.

George Rose/Getty Images

California is in the middle of a terrible drought. The rivers are running low, and most of its farmers are getting very little water this year from the state's reservoirs and canals. And yet, farming is going on as usual.

NPR food and agriculture correspondent Dan Charles explains how farmers have been using wells and underground aquifers to water their crops. But that's all set to change. California is about to put dramatic limits on the amount of water farmers can pump from their wells, and people have some pretty strong feelings about it.

Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Brit Hanson, fact-checked by Berly McCoy, and edited by Gisele Grayson and Viet Le. Stacey Abbot provided engineering support.