California enacted a groundwater law 7 years ago, but wells continue to dry up while threat spreads

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Kelly O’Brien listens to her well hum as it fills with cool water after more than a month of living without water at her home July 2. Valley News/Rachel Becker, CalMatters photo
Rachel Becker CalMatters Special To Valley News Kelly O’Brien’s drinking water well had been in its death throes for days before its pump finally gave out over Memorial Day weekend. It wasn’t a quiet death at O’Brien’s home in Glenn County, about 100 miles north of Sacramento. Spigots rattled. Faucets sputtered. The drinking water turned rusty with sediment. In the end, two houses, three adults, three children, two horses, four dogs and a couple of cats on her 5 acres of land were all left with no water for their sinks, showers, laundry, troughs and water bowls. As extreme drought spread across the state, O’Brien feared that the water underneath her property had sunk so low that it was out of the reach of her well. “The whole time you’re going, ‘Oh
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