Climate Change Threatens Calif. Water Supply

Perennial drought and rising sea levels are real threats.

California's precious and dwindling water supply is under siege - from water.

Salt water is set to contaminate much of the groundwater that supplies about half the state's supply of life-giving fresh water, according to scientists who testified at a recent conference in Half Moon Bay.

Assemblyman Richard Gordon, D-Menlo Park, hosted the hearing at which academics as well as farmers and fishermen testified.

"Whether you believe or not, we have scientific data which shows that the sea is rising," Gordon told the San Francisco Examiner.

About 48 percent of California's water supply comes from groundwater that is close to being contaminated by seawater if sea levels rise, according to a geologist from the state Department of Water Resources.

In Monterey County, for instance, 22,000 acres of farmland is in the coastal zone at sea level -- and salt levels in the soil is already rising. Seawater is encroaching on water 10 miles inland, which means the famously fertile areas around Salinas could become barren.

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