Jun 19, 2020

Report Estimates 12,000 Domestic Wells Could Run Dry

A new study estimates that as many as 12,000 domestic wells could run dry by the year 2040.


well water

A new study by the Water Foundation predicts tens of thousands of people could lose their drinking water under current Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) proposals.

The Water Foundation commissioned an analysis of 26 Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs) in the San Joaquin Valley, California to understand how private domestic drinking water wells in the region will be affected. 

The key findings estimate that if the goals in these GSPs are not proactively addressed, it will result in:

  • Between roughly 4,000 and 12,000 partially or completely dry drinking water wells by 2040
  • Between roughly 46,000 and 127,000 people who lose some or all of their primary water supply by 2040
  • Between $88 million to $359 million in costs to restore access to drinking water

The cause is falling groundwater levels, according to the study.

“What is clear to us is that there will be, unless changes are made to these groundwater sustainability plans, real negative impacts to community access to drinking water,” said Jonathan Nelson of the Visalia-based Community Water Center to KVPR.

According to the report, the totals are likely an undercount, as the report focused on a region of the San Joaquin Valley which only represents 26 of the state’s nearly 300 local groundwater sustainability agencies.

The researchers add that further analysis beyond the scope of this report is required. Meaning, it will be critical to study the effect of GSPs on other areas of concern, such as impacts on the environment and on important infrastructure. 

“As state decision-makers conduct their GSP review process, we hope that this brief will help bring greater attention to vulnerable Californians and their most basic need: safe, clean, and affordable water.”

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