A California Department of Water Resources geologist measures and records a pumping water level in a production well. (Photo: John Chacon,/DWR, 2013, via California Water Blog)
Analysis: California’s single most urgent water policy priority is preserving our groundwater supply. In normal years, groundwater provides one-third of our state’s urban and agricultural water. In dry years, it provides up to nearly two-thirds.
An old wind-driven pump that tapped groundwater on a California ranch. Photo: Steven Frame)
As the warm temperatures melt California’s meager snowpack, turning rivers into streams and streams into mere trickles, communities and farmers across the state will be increasingly turning to groundwater to meet customer demand and to keep crops and livestock alive. But there’s a problem: Many will be drawing from aquifers already depleted and long under stress as groundwater levels in many basins across the state are reportedly at historic lows.