The Next Great California Water War Is Starting Underground, in the Mojave Desert

Minerals, Nuts, and the Navy Are at the Center of a Novel Fight Over Groundwater, and Its Governance

Can California regions regulate groundwater without destroying their businesses and communities?

That’s the question being posed as regions and localities implement the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), the historic 2014 state law that brought regulation to California’s diminishing groundwater supplies.

Groundwater is the water buried in aquifers, the underground spaces between rocks, soils, and sand. Layers of aquifers are called groundwater basins. California has hundreds of them, and we could not live without them. Eighty-five percent of Californians depend on groundwater, which constitutes roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply (and …

From Bakersfield, You Can See Forever | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

From Bakersfield, You Can See Forever

A Panoramic View From a Kern County Park Shows the Convergence of California's Past, Present, and Future

From the tunnel view of Yosemite Valley to just about any glimpse of the Golden Gate, California is famous for its extraordinary vistas. But if you’re looking for the state’s …

All Aboard, Bay Area, on Your Fast Train to Wasco

This Kern County Town, a Conduit for High-Speed Rail, Has a Lot to Offer

Dear Bay Area,

Welcome to Wasco.

You may never have heard of this small city of 25,000 in the San Joaquin Valley. You probably can’t pronounce it (it’s WAW-skoh).

But you and …

We Grow the Country’s Carrots, but Ours Come in Bags

Kern County's Food Policy Council Tries to Confront the Unique Paradoxes of Its Food System

Kern County is home to two seemingly opposite realities.

First, it’s famous for producing food. In 2014, it grew $7.5 billion worth of grapes, almonds, milk, citrus, and beef. The …

When Art Disappeared from Our ArtWalk

After Vendors of Nacho Cheese and Knockoff Purses Arrived at Bakersfield’s First Fridays, We Had to Implement New Policies—and Define Art

Things were going well until the crockpots of nacho cheese began showing up next to the knock-off purses in 2013. Once that happened, Bakersfield’s ArtWalk, part of its monthly downtown …