Calif.’s groundwater supplies increase for first time in four years

Officials warn that California will need to see many more wet years in order to see further increases.

California has reported the first increase in groundwater supplies in four years, following heavy rainfall and snow in the state.

In the water year ending in September, California saw 4.1 million acre-feet of managed groundwater recharge and an 8.7 million acre-feet increase in groundwater storage.


Driving the news: Efforts to replenish groundwater basins were intensified during the previous year’s rains, including capturing water flows from melting snowpack and flooding fields to recharge the basins.

  • Groundwater supplies are vital for drinking water and agricultural purposes in California, where farmers rely on it to grow a significant portion of the country’s food.
  • Previously, there were no regulations in place regarding groundwater pumping, which led to problems such as dried wells and land sinking. 
  • California now requires local communities to measure and regulate groundwater pumping for sustainability.
  • Some areas that experienced land sinking saw a rebound as users pumped less groundwater due to the availability of more surface water after the rains.
  • Although some farmers have reported a recovery in their wells, California water officials state that it would take five rainy years like the previous one to reach desired groundwater storage levels after years of overpumping.

What they’re saying: “The impressive recharge numbers in 2023 are the result of hard work by the local agencies combined with dedicated efforts from the state, but we must do more to be prepared to capture and store water when the wet years come,” said Paul Gosselin with the California Department of Water Resources in a statement. 

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