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First increase in groundwater supplies in 4 years

Groundwater supplies increase in California

California's Department of Water Resources reported a significant boost in groundwater supplies, the first in four years, following extensive rainfall and snow accumulation. The state recorded 4.1 million acre-feet in managed groundwater recharge and an 8.7 million acre-feet increase in groundwater storage for the water year ending in September. This development is vital as groundwater is a key resource for the agriculture sector, crucial for producing a significant portion of the nation's fresh produce.

Efforts to enhance groundwater recharge were intensified last year, with water officials leveraging the melting snowpack to augment water capture and encouraging agricultural practices such as field flooding to replenish groundwater basins. Paul Gosselin, the agency's deputy director of sustainable water management, emphasized the collective efforts of local agencies and the state in achieving these recharge figures. He also highlighted the need for continued efforts to optimize water capture and storage in anticipation of wet years.

The report also touched on the challenges and responses to groundwater management in California, especially in the face of climate change. Historically, unrestricted groundwater pumping led to issues like well depletion and land subsidence, prompting legislation to regulate groundwater use and ensure sustainability. Notably, the report observed a reduction in land subsidence in areas with decreased groundwater pumping, attributed to the increased availability of surface water.

Despite the positive trends, some farmers have observed improvements in well recovery, sparking discussions on the necessity of pumping restrictions. The state, however, maintains that achieving sustainable groundwater levels will require multiple consecutive years of similar rainfall.


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