By Miriam Raftery
May 2, 2014 (Sacramento)--As the drought intensifies, a new report by the California Department of Water Resources reveals that groundwater levels across California have historically low water levels. Half of the 5,400 wells studied had shrunk to levels lower than seen in the last 100 years.
The analysis looked at thousands of wells across the state, based on data submitted by well drillers and well owners, the Sacramento Bee reports.
That’s hurting farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, where some wells are 100 feet below normal.
Across the state and right here in East County, some wells have gone completely dry – and it’s not even summertime yet. East County Magazine’s publisher, who lives in Lakeside, had his well run dry just this week.
Some property owners are drilling deeper, and this places added strain on groundwater supplies. Locally, residents in rural areas have voiced fears that major energy projects planned could deplete their aquifers completely – the water sources that they rely on for drinking water for themselves as well as livestock.
California is one of the few states that does not regulate how much water well owners can pump, the Sacramento Bee reports, or even to report how much they pump.
In 2009, new state legislation required well owners to regularly report ground water elevation (but not pumping rates) or risk losing eligibility for state water grants. But compliance has been spotty, with most failing to file the required reports.
If the drought continues, it bodes ominously for rural residents reliant on groundwater supplies. Statewide, groundwater provides a third of all of California’s water needs – but during drought years, when water levels of rivers and lakes drops, Californians rely on groundwater for 60 percent of our water.
The study points up the need for better management of groundwater resources, the state’s Water Resources director concluded.