Report Finds at Least 1,000 To 6,000 Wells in California Are at Risk of Failure

September 2, 2020, Oakland, California – This week the Center for Regional Change at the University of California, Davis released a report that measures the vulnerability of domestic wells to groundwater management strategies in California. Sustainable for Whom? The Impact of Groundwater Sustainability Plans on Domestic Wells finds that at least 1,000 to 6,000 wells in California are at risk of failure in critically overdrafted groundwater basins under the locally proposed minimum thresholds.

Studies estimate that 1.5 to 2.5 million Californians rely on domestic wells to meet their household water needs, but because domestic wells are often shallow, they are sensitive to changes in groundwater levels. Thus sustainable groundwater management has an important role to play in safeguarding the health and safety of Californians and the achievement of the state’s recognized Human Right to Water.

The report analyzes 41 groundwater sustainability plans in 19 critically overdrafted groundwater subbasins in California, to assess monitoring network coverage and the vulnerability of domestic wells to minimum water thresholds, which indicate the lowest groundwater level considered sustainable. It uses a narrow subset of domestic wells that are very likely still in operation in order to calculate the minimum number of wells vulnerable. The report includes recommendations to address these shortfalls, towards the achievement of sustainable groundwater management that would support the state’s efforts to achieve the human right to water for all.

Pacific Institute Research Associate Darcy Bostic is a co-author of the report, which was supported by a grant from the Water Foundation.

Learn more and download the report here.