I want to update readers this week on a few stories I’ve covered in the past. I don’t always have the time to follow up on stories I found interesting a month or even a day ago, and I’m sure readers don’t either. But this week I found time to scratch back in time to earlier stories, and to find out what the latest news is.
Recently, California made the news with its ongoing drought. The story I linked to in that post discussed Fresno, Calif., and how much that area struggled with water access amid one of the worst droughts in the state’s history. Newsweek pipes in this week with a story about Lompico, Calif. The tiny town of 1,200 is one of 17 areas the state deems water stressed. Lompico depends on three groundwater wells. Town officials say one of the wells is failing and residents one minor disaster (like a water main break) away from a major water emergency.
The governor has declared a “drought state of emergency.” Scientists are concerned that our new normal consists of more intense weather events, like persistent droughts. Neither of these are good news for California residents. Will drought tarnish the Golden State permanently?
The disaster in Fukushima, Japan, is well known and well documented. I wrote in August about a plan by the Japanese government to contain groundwater seepage from the crippled plan with a feat of foundation drilling: a massive, undergound ice wall. Tokyo Electric Power Company, the nuclear plant’s owner, has tried and failed to keep water poured in to cool the reactors after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami from migrating to the ocean. Drilling to begin the barrier around two of the reactors was scheduled to begin this week. Let’s hope the $320 million scheme works.
Back on the West Coast of the United States, the giant tunnel boring machine Bertha sits stalled under downtown Seattle. I wrote about the $1.09 billion project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct strip of State Road 99 in August. In December, the borer hit a mystery object, grinding the project to a halt. Well, it turns out the 6-story talk Bertha ran into some old steel well casing. The high-tech machine tunneling dozens of feet below the city apparently eats rock for breakfast but steel gives it indigestion.
Lastly, I wanted to touch on a positive story I wrote about in September and again in November. Satellite images helped drillers confirm the existence of a huge aquifer under one of the more arid parts of Kenya. The water source is so large, it could change the fortunes of the country. Well, the Kenya government will start drilling boreholes later this month with an eye on irrigation for agriculture. It’s funny how a solid water source can quench people’s thirst and also trickle down into the food system to feed their bellies, too. Kudos for Kenya.
Anyway, that’s it for now. I’m busy putting together the March issue of National Driller. It has the usual lineup of columnists as well as an interesting interview with an expert on groundwater law. As usual, send story ideas, thoughts and rants to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe out there, drillers.