UCCE Humboldt - Del Norte Counties
University of California
UCCE Humboldt - Del Norte Counties

Posts Tagged: Thomas Harter

California drought is depleting the state's groundwater reserves

Nervousness over California's epic drought has given way to alarm, reported Joby Warrick in the Washington Post. Streams and lakes are drying up, and now the aquifers are being pumped at an unsustainable rate.

The massive shift to groundwater has helped farmers survive this year, but a UC Davis study says tapping groundwater at the same rate into the future could soon deplete this valuable resource.

"A well-managed basin is used like a reserve bank account," said Richard Howitt, professor emeritus in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis. "We're acting like the super rich who have so much money they don't need to balance their checkbook."

Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension groundwater specialist in the Department of Land, Air and Water at UC Davis, said depleting the aquifer is more serious than depleting water reservoirs because aquifers take far longer to replenish.

"It's a downward path," he said. "We cannot do what we did this year on a permanent basis."

Huntington Lake, a reservoir in the Sierra Nevada, is at about one-third of its capacity. In this July 2014 photo, the basin is also shrouded in smoke from a nearby forest fire.
Posted on Monday, August 18, 2014 at 9:28 AM
Tags: drought (1), Thomas Harter (5), water (2)

San Joaquin Valley residents learn more about groundwater nitrate problem

UC Cooperative Extension advisor Richard Smith is one of many UC scientists conducting research to mitigate California groundwater nitrate contamination.
Pamela Creedon, executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, said the state of California failed to protect San Joaquin Valley residents' drinking water from fertilizer, dairy and septic contamination, according to a report in the Fresno Bee by Mark Grossi.

Creedon spoke yesterday at a conference arranged by Fresno State's International Center for Water Technology. Also on the panel was Thomas Harter, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources at UC Davis, who described his recently released research report on nitrates in Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley groundwater.

The conference featured panels and speakers on many of California's water issues, including underground water banking and Southern California's quest for new water sources, Grossi reported. However, no issue was bigger than Harter's study, he said.

Earlier Thursday, Harter and his research team presented details of the report to an audience of about 150 at the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center. Two local television stations, ABC affiliate Channel 30 and CBS affiliate Channel 47, provided their viewers with live reports from the scene.

Posted on Friday, May 4, 2012 at 8:27 AM
Tags: nitrate (2), Thomas Harter (5)

Pump-and-fertilize a potential solution to groundwater nitrate

Many farmers factor in the nitrates from their wells when they calculate fertilizer applications.
Pumping up water contaminated with nitrate and using it to fertilize crops is one way the agriculture industry can deal with the groundwater contamination detailed in a UC Davis report released last week, reported Mark Grossi in the Fresno Bee.

By itself, pump-and-fertilize won't be enough, said Thomas Harter, the lead author of the report, Addressing Nitrate in California's Drinking Water. It won't work in areas where there is too much salt in the groundwater, for example. Also, more fresh water must be allowed to seep into the underground aquifer. The fresh water will replace the tainted water and refill underground areas that have been overpumped in the past.

Dare to be different: Think beyond tomatoes, peppers
Laura Christman, Redding Record-Searchlight

When planning a summer garden, try some unusual vegetables, like heat-tolerant greens and odd tubers, the article suggests.

"Most people love tomatoes and a good sweet pepper, but that's not the be-all, end-all of summer nutritional health," said Sean Kriletich, a gardening expert with University of California Cooperative Extension Sierra Central.

Mixing things up in the garden yields different flavors, more nutrition, additional colors, textures and beneficial insects.

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM

Traces of dairy antibiotics reach groundwater

A very small amount of antibiotics administered to dairy cattle makes its way into shallow groundwater, according to research by UC Davis Cooperative Extension groundwater hydrologist Thomas Harter.

The results of Harter's research were outlined in a UC Davis press release distributed last week and picked up by the Sacramento Bee, an LA Times blog and other media outlets.

"Our next task is to determine whether these particular antibiotics are further degraded before reaching domestic and public water wells," Harter was quoted in the release.

California dairies typically give antibiotics to young cows, and to nonlactating adult cows. The news release said health officials are concerned that antibiotics could travel from manure lagoons into drinking water for people and livestock. Harter said that the health effects of antibiotics in drinking water at the low levels he detected are not known.

Harter's study was conducted at two large freestall dairy operations in the San Joaquin Valley with a total of more than 2,700 milking cows and 2,500 heifers. The research was published Aug. 10 in the American Chemical Society's online journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Dairy cow.
Dairy cow.

Posted on Monday, August 30, 2010 at 6:44 AM
Tags: dairy (1), groundwater (3), Thomas Harter (5)

UC expert speaks at Lodi town hall meeting

A town hall meeting yesterday, hosted by the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District, included comments from UC Davis Cooperative Extension groundwater hydrology specialist Thomas Harter, according to an account in the Lodi-News Sentinel.

The discussion centered on a local ballot initiative to fund the development of infrastructure for groundwater recharge. The story said authorities are working to solve "the region's groundwater crisis."

"The ground isn't sinking like in Bakersfield," said the general manager of the Stockton East Water District. "But if we don't act on it, that's what we are looking at."

Harter provided general information about groundwater hydrology at the meeting, the newspaper reported.

"Groundwater is like a bank account, if you take more out than you put in, you will have a lower balance," Harter was quoted. "It will be a matter of decades, not weeks or months, to refill the basin."

The upcoming ballot initiative, Measure C, would enable the district to collect a fee for pumping groundwater, the story said.

For groundwater links, publications, research and a blog, see Harter's Groundwater Hydrology website.

Thomas Harter.
Thomas Harter.

Posted on Thursday, May 13, 2010 at 8:08 AM
Tags: groundwater (3), Thomas Harter (5), water (2)
Webmaster Email: lacannafax@ucanr.edu