Continuing from Part 1, why would a groundwater shortage in San Diego affect how much a surface water diverter in Modoc County could use…rather, how much the diverter has to reduce his use? Where does all groundwater come from? Surface water flowing in streams, accumulating in meadows, ponds, and lakes replenishes groundwater, whether it takes a year, 3 years, or 20 years.
Rainfall infiltrates (soaks in) until the soil has no more capacity, and then runs off. Groundwater is directly connected to, and depends on the amount of surface water.
- For the first time ever, statewide groundwater monitoring
- Statewide water conservation plans, and integrated management of surface water
- Increased surface water reporting, and greatly increased reporting to, fines by, and enforcement from the State Water Resources Control Board
- Increased Delta governance
In 2013, 4 short years later, the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act passed. This is a gigantic change in state groundwater laws – 515 groundwater basins in California are now prioritized based on overdraft, increased groundwater pumping, and falling groundwater levels; or conversely, the health of groundwater basins – some are hardly even touched. On this map, now everybody can see what was nearly invisible 2 years ago – the state of our groundwater basins.
About 2/3 of California’s water falls in the northern 1/3 of the State. However, most of the good agricultural land, as well as most of its population, is in that drier 2/3 of the State.
Back to San Diego potentially affecting how much water can be diverted in Modoc County…does San Diego even have a groundwater basin? Yes it does, along the Sweetwater River. Of course this isn’t hydrologically connected to drainage from the Pit River in Modoc County; the Pit River ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean in the Sacramento River-San Joaquin River Delta, and the Sweetwater enters the ocean on the shores of the City of San Diego.
Think about it: 7 short years ago, groundwater was mostly a mystery to 90% of folks, and surface water management was hardly “integrated”, except for the federal Central Valley Project (CVP), State Water Project (SWP), and some relatively small projects. 20 years from now? Heck, that’s 2036; I’ll bet that, just continuing the –> trajectory –> of legislation that started in 2009, by 2030 (14 years from now), surface water and groundwater will be so connected and co-managed, that shortages in San Diego will require diversions to be reduced from where the water is in those northernmost Counties contributing to the Sacramento River drainage: Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, part of Lassen, Tehama, Glenn, Butte, and Plumas. I put in print so we can check my prognostications down the road. You heard it here first!
Maybe that sounds paranoid or protective. It’s not, I would think the same whether I lived in Crescent City, San Francisco, Susanville, Oroville, Bakersfield, or San Dimas. After all, who would have thought in 2007 or 2008, that we would be integrating surface water use, looking at groundwater maps in syndicated newspapers, hearing of possible fines of $25,000 for misreporting surface water diversion in the middle of nowhere…?
That’s all for now, by the end of the week we’ll be back to discussing the many aspects of the diversion of surface water. Have a good night, everybody.