Vegetable crops produced on California’s central coast need sufficient moisture and nitrogen in the soil to generate optimum commercial yields and quality. Ground water from wells is used for watering crops and is also the primary drinking water source for coastal communities. After many years of over-irrigation and high nitrogen fertilizer application rates, intended to produce good yields for these commodities, many rural wells now show nitrate concentrations in excess of safe drinking water standards. In addition, over-pumping of agricultural wells has actually pulled seawater into some coastal aquifers, contaminating many freshwater wells with salt water. Recently adopted California water laws will soon require farmers to reduce pumping to levels low enough to stop long-term depletion of ground water supplies.
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