Santa Clara County received some good news in October. Ground water levels were measured at similar amounts as the pre-drought levels of 2011. Using a combination of monitoring wells and satellites, officials were able to confirm that ground water levels were back to the same level from six years ago.
All throughout California, cities faced the same issues with over-pumping water and draining groundwater. One result of this over-pumping of ground water was measured from satellites. The ground below these overdrawn areas was sinking due to the volume of water that was being removed from underneath. This issue was more prominent in agricultural areas in the San Joaquin Valley but it was also measured in larger cities like San Jose.
Ground Water in Santa Clara County
County officials credit this positive turn of events on a combination of high rainfall during last winter and the conservation efforts put forth by local water providers. Local agencies made strides to conserve water by implementing rebate programs, water patrols and mandatory watering days among other things. These efforts were critical for reducing the amount of water that was being pumped out.
Reducing the amount of water withdrawn from aquifers was only the first step. Directing more water back into the groundwater system was the next crucial step. In order to get the levels back to wherethey were in 2011, officials relied on a combination of heavy rainfall and “percolation ponds.” These ponds were filled with water from other reservoirs so that the water could filter down into the soil and recharge the local aquifers that had been over-pumped.
As a whole, the state still has a long way to go in order to emerge from the effects of our historical drought. Nonetheless, it is still encouraging to see one area of the state reaching a small but significant milestone.