ground water monitoring well
DWR engineering geologists Aaron Cuthbertson (right) and Kimberly Bowman measure groundwater levels at a designated monitoring well, one of thousands of wells in California used to generate groundwater level change reports (DWR)

Press Release Provided by California Department of Water Resources

The Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board have developed draft groundwater management principles and strategies to better anticipate and minimize the impacts of drought on drinking water wells.

Developed in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s April Executive Drought Proclamation, the principles and strategies provide a framework for State actions to proactively address impacts on groundwater-dependent communities as droughts become more frequent and intense as a result of climate change.  

Release of the draft principles and strategies initiates a formal 30-day public comment period during which written comments will be accepted, as well as oral comments at a public webinar, scheduled for September 23, 2021 from noon until 1:30 pm. Public comments can be emailed to SGMPS@Water.CA.gov and will be accepted through October 7, 2021.More information can be found at the Drinking Water Wells Principles webpage.

“Groundwater is a critical water supply source used by millions of Californians that becomes even more important in times of drought. We must protect it,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Having a robust and transparent state policy to address impacts to drinking water wells is critical in improving near-term coordination and long-term preparation for drought.”

We know that droughts and declining groundwater levels can dry up drinking water wells and make harmful contaminants become more concentrated in certain areas,” said Joaquin Esquivel, Chair of the State Water Board. “Adopting clear principles and strategies to manage groundwater, while protecting drinking water, improves the drought resilience of our rural and often disadvantaged communities, who are most burdened and impacted by deteriorating conditions.”

The State hosted three listening sessions in June to gather early input from members of the public and groundwater and drinking water experts. In July, a public workshop was held to present draft concepts shaped by the comments received.

The draft principles and strategies provide a policy framework of near-term drought response and long-term resilience for those that rely on groundwater for drinking water. The framework prioritizes protection of public health and safety, as well as preparation and mitigation for the effects of drought conditions over the long term. Six principles describe how to address drinking well water impacts, including drinking water resiliency, equity, identifying challenges, best available data, trusted relationships, and lasting solutions.

Final principles and strategies are expected to be released later this fall.

For more information, visit the Drinking Water Wells Principles webpage. Those experiencing drinking water supply issues or a dry well emergency can find resources here.