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State and local response to damaging land subsidence in United States urban areas

January 1, 1989

Land subsidence caused by man-induced depressuring of underground reservoirs has occurred in at least nine urban areas in the United States. Significant efforts to control it have been made in three areas: Long Beach, California; Houston-Galveston, Texas; and Santa Clara Valley, California. In these areas coastal flooding and its control cost more than $300 million. Institutional changes were required in each area to ameliorate its subsidence problem.

In Long Beach and Houston Galveston, efforts were made to mitigate subsidence only after significant flood damage had occurred. To arrest subsidence at Long Beach, the city lobbied for a special state law, the California Subsidence Act, that required unitization and repressuring of the Wilmington oil field. In the Houston-Galveston region, the Texas State Legislature authorized formation of the Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District with authority to regulate groundwater pumping by permit. This solution, which was achieved through efforts of entities affected by subsidence, was the product of a series of compromises necessitated by political fragmentation and disjointed water planning in the region. Amelioration of subsidence in the Santa Clara Valley was a collateral benefit from the effort by water users to curtail ground-water overdraft in the valley. Importation of surface water and a tax on ground-water pumpage reduced ground-water use, thereby allowing the recovery of water level and the arresting of subsidence.

Publication Year 1989
Title State and local response to damaging land subsidence in United States urban areas
DOI 10.1016/0013-7952(89)90041-0
Authors T.L. Holzer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Engineering Geology
Index ID 70015344
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse