Salty soil in California’s Central Valley spurs sacrifice zones, solutions and, in some cases, solar panels.
March 27, 2017
By Erica Gies
Environmental Health News
In much of California’s flat, sunny San Joaquin Valley, canals deliver the irrigation water that has made the state an agricultural powerhouse, supplying one-third of vegetables and two-thirds of fruit and nuts eaten in the United States. But along the west side of the valley, some fields are sprouting not crops, but solar panels.
The water that made this agricultural land productive also spelled its doom. Because most water contains salt, irrigating adds salt to soil over time, especially in arid and semi-arid places with little rainfall and poor drainage.
“Anytime you use water, you leave salt behind,” said Jeanne Chilcott, environmental program manager for the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. “The salt moves where the water goes.