The drought is just now beginning in California
1 of 1 View Larger Is the drought over?
• In normal water years, 38 percent of the state’s water supplies come from groundwater.
During the drought, we took 60 percent of our water from aquifers.
If the loss were a third of average for ever year that would translate to 20 million acre feet of water loss in reservoirs from 2013 to 2016.
• While one heavy year of snow and rain as we are now experiencing can bounce surface water reservoirs and lakes all the way up to the brim, it takes years to decades for underground water to be replenished according to the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis.
• In some cases, the loss of water leads to severe soil compaction meaning some ground permanently losses the ability to hold water.
Decisions regarding the timing of water releases and how it is used can create manmade droughts.
While local groundwater tables sustained more modest drops – typically under 10 feet – they are not going to bounce back in one year.
This is the reason the Groundwater Sustainability Act was passed in Sacramento that created a mandate to various groundwater basins throughout the state to strike a balance between what is taken out of aquifers and what flows in.
It also means unless we change our water use patterns for good, growth will be impossible to support especially in communities, such as Stockton, that rely 100 percent on groundwater without reducing per capita consumption.