Topic: Groundwater

Overview

Groundwater

Unlike California’s majestic rivers and massive dams and conveyance systems, groundwater is out of sight and underground, though no less plentiful. The state’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply. In an average year, roughly 40 percent of California’s water supply comes from groundwater.

A new era of groundwater management began in 2014 with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local and regional agencies to develop and implement sustainable groundwater management plans with the state as the backstop.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Groundwater can’t be regulated without increasing surface supplies

Increased groundwater pumping is under growing scrutiny. The devastating consequences of a third year of drought, coupled with over-regulation of surface supplies, have increased momentum in Sacramento for state intervention in local groundwater management.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Satellites Show Major Southwest Groundwater Loss

Groundwater losses from the Colorado River basin appear massive enough to challenge long-term water supplies for the seven states and parts of Mexico that it serves, according to a new study released Thursday that used NASA satellites.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Groundwater Level in California Basin Hits Historic Low

From the Los Angeles Times:

The groundwater level in the San Bernardino Basin area is at its lowest point in recorded history, officials say.

Read more

Aquafornia news Salinas Californian

Study: Farmers Tap Into Groundwater Reserves

From The Salinas Californian:

Unbridled pumping of well water along the Central Coast and in the Central Valley could have dire consequences for the agricultural economy, according to a new study released by the University of California, Davis.

Read more  

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

News Release: Aquifer System Beneath Albuquerque Shows Impact of Groundwater Pumping

From the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

Groundwater pumping has produced significant changes in water levels below some parts of the Albuquerque metropolitan area, according to two new reports published by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: On Water Issues, 1 Vote Each Isn’t Always Fairest

From The Bakersfield Californian, in a column by Lois Henry:

There’s so much going on with groundwater, it’s a whirlwind! … There are two bills in the process of melding into one that both aim to change a basic tenet of California groundwater regulation — which, as it happens, does not presently exist.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Drought Takes Toll on San Joaquin County Groundwater

From the Stockton Record:

Hundreds of tiny red arrows spread like star constellations across a map of San Joaquin County tell the story: The drought is drawing down our valuable groundwater “savings account.”

Read more  

Aquafornia news Associated Press

River Ruling Could Boost Regulation of Groundwater

From the Associated Press:

An attorney said Thursday he expects to appeal a potentially precedent-setting court finding that could make local governments responsible for controlling the largely unregulated pumping of groundwater in the state.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Little Oversight as Nestle Taps Morongo Reservation Water

From The Desert Sun:

Among the windmills and creosote bushes of San Gorgonio Pass, a nondescript beige building stands flanked by water tanks.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Sacramento Judge Makes Precedent-Setting Ruling On Groundwater Regulation

From Capital Public Radio:

A Sacramento Superior Court judge issued a ruling Tuesday requiring regulation of groundwater pumping to protect a river in Siskiyou County. Attorneys on both sides say it’s the first time a California court has ruled the “public trust doctrine” applies to groundwater.

Read more  

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Groundwater Pumping Propping Up Farms in California Drought

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Consumers will see no shortages of California-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables this year despite one of the worst droughts in state history, but that’s because farmers are draining groundwater reserves and leaving no insurance should heavy rains fail to materialize next winter, UC Davis researchers said Tuesday.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California Drought Threatens to Dry Up Farm Wells

From the Associated Press:

Researchers say farmers in pockets of California hardest hit by the drought could begin to see wells run dry next year.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Report: Groundwater Management Plans Need Improvement

From Capital Public Radio:

The California Water Foundation looked at 120 groundwater management plans adopted by local water agencies. In a nutshell, the results aren’t good.

Read more, or listen to the story  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: Cadiz Project Water to Be Made Available Locally

From the San Bernardino County Sun, in a commentary by Scott Slater:

In his July 1 opinion commentary, Bob Stadum asks whether the Cadiz Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project’s proposal to “mine” Mojave Desert water for use in Southern California is a good thing. While mining is a mainstay of the San Bernardino economy, the Cadiz Project is not “mining.”

Read more  

Aquafornia news California Water Foundation

News Release: Report Highlights Urgent Need to Address Groundwater Problems Throughout California

From the California Water Foundation:

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Drought Threatens Future of Center for Developmentally Disabled

From the Los Angeles Times:

Earlier this year, LARC’s [Los Angeles Residential Community] wells started to sputter, and today, they have run dry. The aquifer beneath Bouquet Canyon appears to be empty.

Read more  

Aquafornia news California Water Foundation

News Release: What People Are Saying About Protecting California’s Groundwater

From the California Water Foundation:

Water experts, local water agencies, environmental groups, agricultural interests, homeowners and the media continue to join the call to fix California’s broken groundwater management system. Here’s what they’re saying about two rapidly moving bills (SB 1168 and AB 1739) aimed at advancing sustainable management of groundwater basins in the state.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Leaders Focusing on Groundwater Treatment in Bond Discussions

From the Los Angeles Times:

When the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced last year an ambitious groundwater treatment program for the contaminated San Fernando Basin, the agency had its eyes on a state water bond for crucial funding to get the project built.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Editorial: End Secrecy in California’s Groundwater Logs

From The Sacramento Bee:

California is the only state in the western United States that does not regulate groundwater at the state level.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: Almond Grower Weary of Farmers Being Called Water-wasters

From The Modesto Bee, in a commentary by Dave Phippen:

Imagine my surprise to wake up to yet another Sunday morning story in The Modesto Bee (“Rush to drill is uneven” Page A1, June 29) to learn how those pesky nut farmers have caused even more rural Stanislaus residents to experience the unpleasant experience of a dry well.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

As Drought Persists, Frustration Mounts Over Secrecy of California’s Well Drilling Logs

From The Sacramento Bee:

By now, the contours of California’s groundwater crisis are familiar: the dried-up wells, sinking farmland, over-tapped aquifers and growing push for more state oversight. But on the edges of that drama is a back story that’s been largely overlooked about groundwater data, government secrecy and scientific opportunities lost.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Aerojet Rocketdyne, Folsom Complete Work to Ease Drought’s Effects

From The Sacramento Bee:

Citing the urgency to conserve water amid California’s intensifying drought, officials of Aerojet Rocketdyne and the city of Folsom announced Tuesday an interim solution that will enable the company to start reusing millions of gallons of treated groundwater.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee Kevin Valine Blog

Blog: Modesto News — City Drawing on Wells Amid Drought, MID Cuts

From The Modesto Bee Kevin Valine Blog:

Modesto is feeling the effects of the drought, with the Modesto Irrigation District reducing the amount of water it sends to the city by 43 percent, which is the same reduction MID has imposed on its other water users.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Coachella Valley Groundwater Pumping Holds Steady

From The Desert Sun:

Facing one of the worst droughts in California history, Gov. Jerry Brown in January urged people across the state to cut water use by 20 percent. … But the Coachella Valley, like much of California, remains far from reaching that goal.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Homeowners Go Dry as Farmers Get Permits to Drill Hundreds of New Wells

From The Modesto Bee:

Stanislaus County farmers have been granted permission to drill hundreds of new agricultural wells this year, while an increasing number of domestic water wells go dry, a review of permit records shows.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

Groundwater Bills Clear Senate and Assembly Committees, Talks Continue

From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):

Two ACWA-supported bills aimed at advancing sustainable management of California’s groundwater basins moved out of Senate and Assembly committees June 24, launching what is expected to be several weeks of final negotiations and fine-tuning.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: ‘Shell Game’ with Parkway Well Water?

From The Bakersfield Californian, in a commentary by Lois Henry:

The city has been watching for several months as those wells have pumped thousands of acre feet of groundwater into the Cross Valley Canal where it has moved on to the California Aqueduct and parts unknown.

Read more  

Aquafornia news Modesto Bee

Turlock Could Seek State Money for Water Projects

From The Modesto Bee:

The [Turlock] City Council on Tuesday will consider seeking about $2.54 million in state money for wellhead treatment and water conservation.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: Local Authority Crucial to Managing Groundwater

From Capitol Weekly, in a commentary by Scott Slater:

Dramatic declines in groundwater levels and a record drought have made groundwater management reform in California a priority for discussion in the California Legislature and a call for change.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Commentary: Groundwater Out of Sight But Never Out of Mind

From the Stockton Record, in a commentary by Jack Hamm:

Agriculture is San Joaquin County’s leading industry. … Ask any farmers, and they will tell you that the most important tool they utilize when growing their crop is water.

Read more  

Aquafornia news

Blog: Modernizing California’s Groundwater Management

From the California WaterBlog, by the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences:

Organized by the Groundwater Resources Association of California, the Contemporary Groundwater Issues Council of scientists, economists, consultants, policymakers and regulators recently developed a set of consensus recommendations.

Read more  

Aquafornia news KCET ReWire blog by Chris Clarke

Blog: Mammoth Residents Concerned Over Geothermal Plant Threat to Groundwater

From the KCET ReWire blog by Chris Clarke:

“A 33-megawatt geothermal power plant approved in August by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service has the town of Mammoth Lakes worried about its drinking water supply.”

Read more  

Aquafornia news Stockton Record

Opposition Votes By San Joaquin County on Water Issues

From the Stockton Record:

“Fearing the state will interfere with local management of groundwater supplies, San Joaquin County supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose legislation and support state intervention ‘only in the most extreme situations.’”

Read more  

Aquafornia news Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

DWR Releases Prioritization Results for Monitoring Groundwater Basins

From the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA):

“Nearly one in four of California’s groundwater basins and subbasins have been deemed medium or high priority under a statewide monitoring program, the Department of Water Resources announced late Tuesday.”

Read more  

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

‘Pioneer Spirit’ Helping Central Valley Residents Deal With Drought

From Capital Public Radio:

“As groundwater levels continue to drop in the Central Valley, many homeowners are finding ways to cope and to prepare — in case their private wells running dry.”

Read more, or listen to the story  

Aquafornia news U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

News Release: Land-Subsidence Trends in Coachella Valley Detailed in New Report

From the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS):

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Drought Intensifies Push for Better California Groundwater Management

From Capital Public Radio:

“This Part 2 in a two-part series about how communities are affected by the drought and the state’s effort to manage groundwater more sustainably. … Californians are becoming more reliant on underground water during the drought. But policymakers and environmental groups agree better management of the resource is needed.”

Read more, or listen to the story  

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

The ‘Deepest Straw Wins’ in Central Valley Scramble for Groundwater

From Capital Public Radio:

“This is Part 1 in a two-part series focusing on the experiences of Central Valley homeowners during the drought. During a normal year, 30 percent of the water Californians consume comes from groundwater. This year, the California Department of Food and Agriculture says groundwater will account for 60 percent.”

Read more, or listen to the story  

Aquafornia news

Supreme Court Ruling Muddies Water in Lejeune Pollution Case

From the McClatchy Washington, D.C., Bureau:

“The Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to North Carolina families trying to sue over groundwater contamination at a big Marine Corps base.”

Read more

Aquafornia news Sacramento Bee

Editorial: It’s High Time California Manages Its Underground Water Sources

From The Sacramento Bee:

“This has to be the year that California finally starts to regulate groundwater. It has to be.”

Read more  

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

Well Drilling Spikes In Drought-Stricken Central Valley

From Capital Public Radio:

“Many people who live in the Fresno area say water isn’t flowing from their taps like it used to. Households using private groundwater wells are finding the water table is falling below their pump during the drought.”

Read more, or listen to the story  

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Groundwater legislation marks turning point to achieve reliable water supply

California made history recently when Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. Its passage marks a once-in-a-century achievement, for it was 100 years ago that California enacted the first comprehensive legal framework for managing surface water.

Aquafornia news USGS California Water Science Center

Report: Integrated Hydrologic Model of Pajaro Valley, Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties

Increasing population, agricultural development (including shifts to more water-intensive crops), and climate variability are placing increasingly larger demands on available groundwater resources in the Pajaro Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

City of Sacramento plans to update water wells

Because of the drought, the City of Sacramento uses groundwater for about 20 percent of its water needs. The City says it could pump ground water more efficiently if it updated some of its wells.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

News Release: Lester Snow to talk about historic groundwater legislation at special Water 101 Workshop

Attend the Water Education Foundation’s special Water 101 Workshop in Southern California in early October and hear from one of the people who helped formulate the historic groundwater legislation recently signed by Gov. Brown. Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation and the former director of the Department of Water Resources, was a key player in the formulation of the package of groundwater bills – AB 1739, SB 1168 and SB 1319.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater
Updated 2017

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background and perspective on groundwater. The guide explains what groundwater is – not an underground network of rivers and lakes! – and the history of its use in California.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Western Water Magazine

Overdrawn at the Bank: Managing California’s Groundwater
January/February 2014

This printed issue of Western Water looks at California groundwater and whether its sustainability can be assured by local, regional and state management. For more background information on groundwater please refer to the Founda­tion’s Layperson’s Guide to Groundwater.

Western Water Magazine

Nitrate and the Struggle for Clean Drinking Water
March/April 2013

This printed issue of Western Water discusses the problems of nitrate-contaminated water in small disadvantaged communities and possible solutions.

Western Water Magazine

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater management and the extent to which stakeholders believe more efforts are needed to preserve and restore the resource.

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - Paperback

The story of water is the story of California. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Publication

Water & the Shaping of California
Published 2000 - hardbound

The story of California is the story of water. And no book tells that story better than Water & the Shaping of California.

Western Water Magazine

Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Quality: A Cause for Concern?
September/October 2012

This printed issue of Western Water looks at hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California. Much of the information in the article was presented at a conference hosted by the Groundwater Resources Association of California.

Publication

New Director’s Packet

Newly elected to your local water board? Or city council? Or state Legislature? This packet of materials provides you with the valuable background information you need – and at a special price!

Western Water Magazine

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines groundwater banking, a water management strategy with appreciable benefits but not without challenges and controversy.

Western Water Magazine

Viewing Water with a Wide Angle Lens: A Roundtable Discussion
January/February 2013

This printed issue of Western Water features a roundtable discussion with Anthony Saracino, a water resources consultant; Martha Davis, executive manager of policy development with the Inland Empire Utilities Agency and senior policy advisor to the Delta Stewardship Council; Stuart Leavenworth, editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee and Ellen Hanak, co-director of research and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.

Western Water Magazine

Changing the Status Quo: The 2009 Water Package
January/February 2010

This printed issue of Western Water looks at some of the pieces of the 2009 water legislation, including the Delta Stewardship Council, the new requirements for groundwater monitoring and the proposed water bond.

Western Water Magazine

Desalination: A Drought Proof Supply?
July/August 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines desalination – an issue that is marked by great optimism and controversy – and the expected role it might play as an alternative water supply strategy.

Western Water Magazine

A Tale of Two Rivers: The Russian and the Santa Ana
May/June 2009

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Russian and Santa Ana rivers – areas with ongoing issues not dissimilar to the rest of the state – managing supplies within a lingering drought, improving water quality and revitalizing and restoring the vestiges of the native past.

Western Water Magazine

Dealing with the ‘D’ Word: The Response to Drought
November/December 2008

This printed copy of Western Water examines California’s drought – its impact on water users in the urban and agricultural sector and the steps being taken to prepare for another dry year should it arrive.

Western Water Magazine

An Expanded Role for Groundwater Storage
September/October 2007

Statewide, groundwater provides about 30 percent of California’s water supply, with some regions more dependent on it than others. In drier years, groundwater provides a higher percentage of the water supply. Groundwater is less known than surface water but no less important. Its potential for helping to meet the state’s growing water demand has spurred greater attention toward gaining a better understanding of its overall value. This issue of Western Water examines groundwater storage and its increasing importance in California’s future water policy.

Western Water Magazine

California Groundwater: Managing A Hidden Resource
July/August 2003

This issue of Western Water examines the issue of California groundwater management, in light of recent attention focused on the subject through legislative actions and the release of the draft Bulletin 118. In addition to providing an overview of groundwater and management options, it offers a glimpse of what the future may hold and some background information on groundwater hydrology and law.

Video

A Climate of Change: Water Adaptation Strategies

This 25-minute documentary-style DVD, developed in partnership with the California Department of Water Resources, provides an excellent overview of climate change and how it is already affecting California. The DVD also explains what scientists anticipate in the future related to sea level rise and precipitation/runoff changes and explores the efforts that are underway to plan and adapt to climate.

Video

Stormwater Management: Turning Runoff into a Resource

20-minute DVD that explains the problem with polluted stormwater, and steps that can be taken to help prevent such pollution and turn what is often viewed as a “nuisance” into a water resource through various activities.

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (60-minute DVD)

Many Californians don’t realize that when they turn on the faucet, the water that flows out could come from a source close to home or one hundreds of miles away. Most people take their water for granted; not thinking about the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state. Where drinking water comes from, how it’s treated, and what people can do to protect its quality are highlighted in this 2007 PBS documentary narrated by actress Wendie Malick. 

Video

Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst (30-minute DVD)

A 30-minute version of the 2007 PBS documentary Drinking Water: Quenching the Public Thirst. This DVD is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the elaborate systems and testing that go into delivering clean, plentiful water to households throughout the state.

Video

Water on the Edge (30-minute VHS)

A 30-minute version of the 2005 PBS documentary Water on the Edge. This video is ideal for showing at community forums and speaking engagements to help the public understand the complex issues surrounding the New River.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute VHS)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Video

Water on the Edge (60-minute DVD)

Water truly has shaped California into the great state it is today. And if it is water that made California great, it’s the fight over – and with – water that also makes it so critically important. In efforts to remap California’s circulatory system, there have been some critical events that had a profound impact on California’s water history. These turning points not only forced a re-evaluation of water, but continue to impact the lives of every Californian. This 2005 PBS documentary offers a historical and current look at the major water issues that shaped the state we know today. Includes a 12-page viewer’s guide with background information, historic timeline and a teacher’s lesson.

Product

Go With the Flow: A Storm Water Pollution Prevention Message

This 7-minute DVD is designed to teach children in grades 5-12 about where storm water goes – and why it is so important to clean up trash, use pesticides and fertilizers wisely, and prevent other chemicals from going down the storm drain. The video’s teenage actors explain the water cycle and the difference between sewer drains and storm drains, how storm drain water is not treated prior to running into a river or other waterway. The teens also offer a list of BMPs – best management practices that homeowners can do to prevent storm water pollution.

Video

Conjunctive Use: A Comprehensive Approach to Water Planning

This 11-minute video simplifies the often-misunderstood concept of conjunctive use – coordinating surface water and groundwater supplies, which are often managed as separate resources. It explains in an easy-to-understand manner the relationship between groundwater and surface water, outlines different forms of conjunctive use, and identifies issues of concern that must be resolved for each project. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these concepts.

Video

Groundwater Quality: Managing the Resource

This 15-minute video explains in an easy-to-understand manner the importance of groundwater, defines technical terms, describes sources of groundwater contamination and outlines steps communities can take to protect underground aquifers. Includes extensive computer graphics that illustrate these groundwater concepts. The short running times makes it ideal for presentations and community group meetings. Available on VHS and DVD.

Maps & Posters

California Groundwater Map
New Design for 2017

California Groundwater poster map

Fashioned after the popular California Water Map, this 24×36 inch poster was extensively re-designed in 2017 to better illustrate the value and use of groundwater in California, the main types of aquifers, and the connection between groundwater and surface water.

Maps & Posters

Water Cycle Poster

Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants, rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation. Excellent for elementary school classroom use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Recycling
Updated 2013

As the state’s population continues to grow and traditional water supplies grow tighter, there is increased interest in reusing treated wastewater for a variety of activities, including irrigation of crops, parks and golf courses, groundwater recharge and industrial uses.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use …  Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project
Updated 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to the State Water Project provides an overview of the California-funded and constructed State Water Project.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management
Published 2013

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) is an in-depth, easy-to-understand publication that provides background information on the principles of IRWM, its funding history and how it differs from the traditional water management approach.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water
Published 2006

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Nevada Water provides an overview of the history of water development and use in Nevada. It includes sections on Nevada’s water rights laws, the history of the Truckee and Carson rivers, water supplies for the Las Vegas area, groundwater, water quality, environmental issues and today’s water supply challenges.

Aquapedia background

Seawater Intrusion

Seawater intrusion can harm groundwater quality in a variety of places, both coastal and inland, throughout California.

Along the coast, seawater intrusion into aquifers is connected to overdrafting.  Additionally, in the interior, groundwater pumping can draw up salty water from ancient seawater isolated in subsurface sediments.

Aquapedia background

Pollutants and Groundwater

Pollutants and Groundwater

The natural quality of groundwater in California depends on the surrounding geology and on the source of water that recharges the aquifer.

Aquapedia background

Overdraft

Overdraft occurs when, over a period of years, more water is pumped from a groundwater basin than is replaced from all sources – such as rainfall, irrigation water, streams fed by mountain runoff and intentional recharge. [See also Hydrologic Cycle.]

While many of its individual aquifers are not overdrafted, California as a whole uses more groundwater than is replaced.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Treatment

The treatment of groundwater— the primary source of drinking water and irrigation water in many parts of the United States — varies from community to community, and even from well to well within a city depending on what contaminants the water contains.

In California, one-half of the state’s population drinks water drawn from underground sources [the remainder is provided by surface water].

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Management

Groundwater Management

There are three basic mechanisms available for managing groundwater resources in California. These mechanisms are:

  • management by local agencies under authority granted by state statute
  • coordinated agreements between agencies and jurisdictions and ordinances and court adjudications

Throughout California, more than 2,000 local water agencies have varying degrees of authority over groundwater management. Many are using “innovative strategies” and are making advances on a number of fronts, including conservation and transparency.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Legislation

California has considered, but not implemented, a comprehensive groundwater strategy many times over the last century.

One hundred years ago, the California Conservation Commission considered adding  groundwater regulation into the Water Commission Act of 1913.  After hearings were held, it was decided to leave groundwater rights out of the Water Code.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Law

California, like most arid Western states, has a complex system of surface water rights that accounts for nearly all of the water in rivers and streams.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Banking

Groundwater Banking

Water banking is a form of conjunctive use in which water is allocated for current use, or stored in surface water reservoirs or in aquifers for later use.

Aquapedia background

Groundwater Adjudication

When multiple parties withdraw water from the same aquifer, groundwater pumpers can ask the court to adjudicate, or hear arguments for and against, to better define the rights that various entities have to use groundwater resources. This is known as  groundwater adjudication. [See also California water rights and Groundwater Law.]

Aquapedia background

Groundwater

Groundwater

California’s enormous cache of underground water is a great natural resource and has contributed to the state becoming the nation’s top agricultural producer and leader in high-tech industries.

Groundwater is also increasingly relied upon by growing cities and thirsty farms, and it plays an important role in the future sustainability of California’s overall water supply.

Aquapedia background

Conjunctive Use

Conjunctive use is a catch-phrase for coordinated use of surface water and groundwater— literally going with the flow to maximize sufficient yield.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Preserving Quantity and Quality: Groundwater Management in California
May/June 2011

For something so largely hidden from view, groundwater is an important and controversial part of California’s water supply picture. How it should be managed and whether it becomes part of overarching state regulation is a topic of strong debate.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

Saving it For Later: Groundwater Banking
July/August 2010

In early June, environmentalists and Delta water agencies sued the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Kern County Water Agency (KCWA) over the validity of the transfer of the Kern Water Bank, a huge underground reservoir that supplies water to farms and cities locally and outside the area. The suit, which culminates a decade-long controversy involving multiple issues of state and local jurisdictional authority, has put the spotlight on groundwater banking – an important but controversial water management practice in many areas of California.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

An Expanded Role for Groundwater Storage
September/October 2007

Groundwater, out of sight and out of mind to most people, is taking on an increased role in California’s water future.

Often overlooked and misunderstood, groundwater’s profile is being elevated as various scenarios combine to cloud the water supply outlook. A dry 2006-2007 water year (downtown Los Angeles received a record low amount of rain), crisis conditions in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and the mounting evidence of climate change have invigorated efforts to further utilize aquifers as a reliable source of water supply.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

California Groundwater: Managing A Hidden Resource
Jul/Aug 2003

When you drink the water, remember the spring. – Chinese proverb

Water is everywhere. Viewed from outer space, the Earth radiates a blue glow from the oceans that dominate its surface. Atop the sea and land, huge clouds of water vapor swirl around the globe, propelling the weather system that sustains life. Along the way, water, which an ancient sage called “the noblest of elements,” transforms from vapor to liquid and to solid form as it falls from the atmosphere to the surface, trickles below ground and ultimately returns skyward.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurgRita Schmidt Sudman

Conjunctive Use: Banking for a Dry Day
July/Aug 2001

Traditionally treated as two separate resources, surface water and groundwater are increasingly linked in California as water leaders search for a way to close the gap between water demand and water supply. Although some water districts have coordinated use of surface water and groundwater for years, conjunctive use has become the catchphrase when it comes to developing additional water supply for the 21st century.

Commands