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 ground-water 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. ?? 1989.
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State and local response to damaging land subsidence in United States urban areas