[...] between the three-year drought and increased plantings of thirsty crops such as almonds, the deep-water layer is being siphoned up in bigger quantities than ever. The area around Los Banos has subsided more than most areas of the valley, according to maps compiled by the California Water Foundation. [...] a few years ago, Vlot said, the annual maintenance cost on his wells was about $200,000. Foremost among the solutions being discussed by Vlot, Hurley and the other farmers is storing more water from rain when it does fall. Since there aren't enough reservoirs or ponds for that storage, the ad-hoc group plans to pick several fields among themselves to lay fallow so they can absorb the water and stow it underground. The main challenge is making sure that those who voluntarily leave their fields fallow are compensated for their crop loss by neighbors who benefit from the stored water. Other remedies being considered include trying to capture more floodwaters in a really big rain, installing stingier irrigation methods and pushing for new reservoirs - never an easy fight, given environmental opposition. [...] overall, groundwater supplies nearly two-thirds of the state's water, and scientific studies tracking the drought unmistakably tie the usage to the land subsidence. Two bills making their way through the Legislature would create a regulatory system, and though most farmers would rather avoid the intrusion, others say it is necessary for the future health of California's water supplies. "We have a groundwater crisis in California, and if we're not coming up with ways to reduce its use in wet years to allow it to rebound, we are going to be in trouble," said Andrew Fahlund, deputy director of the California Water Foundation, which studies water management issues and supports regulation.