Did winter storms replenish California’s depleted groundwater supplies? Here’s what data shows

At this groundwater recharge FloodMAR site, the pump, left, that drives water through underground pipes connected to one of several outlets, seen beyond the base of the pole on th eleft, in this agricultural field is seen in the Dunnigan area of Yolo Couny, a region that has seen a dramatic amount of rainfall and rising water for the past several days. Photo taken January 18, 2023.  Andrew Innerarity / DWR

Winter storms have filled California’s reservoirs and built up a colossal Sierra snowpack that’s nearly twice its normal size for this time of year. But years of dry conditions have created problems far beneath Earth’s surface that aren’t as easily addressed.

Groundwater — found in underground layers containing sand, soil and rock — is crucial for drinking water and sustaining farms. During drought years, 60% of California’s annual water supply comes from groundwater. This water is not easily replenished, especially as many groundwater basins across the state are critically overdrafted.

“Even if we have a substantial wet year, it’ll take many years for basins to fully recover, if at all,” said Paul Gosselin, deputy director of sustainable groundwater management for the California Department of Water Resources.

Click here to continue reading at the San Francisco Chronicle (gift article).

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