Groundwater Data Update Provides Important Tool for California

April 28, 2015 |   | Contact: M. Daniel DeCillis

Groundwater change, 2013-2014, California
From 2013 to 2014, groundwater levels decreased in a majority of wells surveyed, with nearly a quarter of wells showing a decrease of more than ten feet. Source: DWR.

California continues to work towards more sustainable water use, with the State exploring numerous strategies in the face of the most severe drought conditions in recorded history.

For the first time in California history, the Governor directed the State Water Resources Control Board to implement mandatory water reductions in cities and towns across California to reduce water usage by 25 percent.

“This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Governor Brown. “As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

Increased availability of data is an important part of the state’s efforts to understand and better manage its water systems. DWR has recently released an important step in this direction, with completion of the Groundwater Update to the California Water Plan Update 2013 with essential data, information, and analyses.

“Answering fundamental questions regarding how groundwater supply and demand relate to basin sustainability requires commitment to regular, consistent, and comprehensive data collection, reporting and assessment,” said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “Groundwater data collection and information exchange, which enhance education and understanding, comprise a critical first step toward improving the reliability of groundwater resources, restoring key ecosystem functions and establishing the resiliency needed to preserve these resources for future generations.”

The Update expands and enhances baseline groundwater information on a regional scale, identifies challenges associated with sustainable groundwater management and helps guide implementation of diverse resource management strategies. Statewide and regional findings, data gaps and recommendations to improve groundwater management also are included.

CCST has been focusing on the importance of improving California’s water future for several years. Water was singled out in CCST’s 2011 Innovate to Innovation report, or i2i, a report done at the request of a bipartisan group of legislators, as one of the key drivers for California’s future economic development. In 2014, CCST released a report titled “California Water – Achieving a Sustainable California Water Future through Innovations in Science and Technology” – which pointed out technologies that can be introduced or more widely applied within the next five to ten years. One of the top conclusions from the 2014 report was the importance of a comprehensive integrated water information system.

“The collection of real time or near real time data on all elements of the hydrologic cycle is a key to good decision making and the analysis of trends and the development of fact-based forecasts and recommendations,” said the authors.

The CCST report, which was designed to complement the Governor’s California Water Action Plan and the DWR 2013 Update of the California Water Plan, also pointed out the water-saving potential in technologies that could be introduced or more widely applied within the next five to ten years. For example, widespread use of soil-moisture-monitoring devices could help better manage irrigation in real time. Investment in new technologies was a component of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-29-15, which directed the California Energy Commission to implement a Water Energy Technology program to deploy “innovative water management technologies for businesses, residents, industries, and agriculture.”

“Sustainable water management will require innovation in science and technology as well as in management practice and policy,” said the report. “The most effective improvements can be achieved not through the application of any single technological solution, but through the selective and well-informed coordination of multiple technologies and strategies designed to complement and reinforce each other.”

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