Taking a look through California’s rich history is a great endeavor, except when learning about the state’s groundwater history.
The famous San Bernardino Basin area has reached the lowest groundwater level in recorded history — a rude awakening for residents in the area as well as for state government officials. At the moment, the basin sits about 500,000 acre-feet below full, according to general manager for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District Douglas Headrick.
Before this all-time low, the previous low was recorded in 1964, which occurred after a 20 year drought in the area, officials stated.
“This isn’t just an issue for San Bernardino, but many other cities depend on this basin for much of their water supply,” the area’s water resource manager, Bob Tincher, said.
Roughly 400 billion gallons of water are used in the U.S every day, and a large portion of this fresh water is groundwater. Found below the earth’s surface, groundwater is found nestled in little pockets in the soil and bedrock and needs to be tapped into in order to use.
Around 95 percent of the nation’s available fresh water resources come from ground water supplies, while about 40 percent of the population uses this as their main source of drinking water. As a result, droughts can be rough on certain geographical areas.
The San Bernardino and Western Municipal Water District in Riverside are currently facing major challenges, said Tincher, including cutbacks in fresh water deliveries from the California State Water Project via the Colorado River.
Unfortunately, many residents do not understand the water shortage issues; they view them as a distant worry, but only because the majority do not know where their water initially comes from. In fact, only 3 to 5 percent of Inland Empire residents knew that 30 percent of the area’s water supplies were imported from elsewhere, according to a recent March survey.
One plan to quench the water shortage would be to construct two massive water tunnels (aqueducts) that would be able to move large amounts of fresh water from Northern California to pumping station that will then distribute water to specific regions in the area.