Water cutbacks return
Trying to restore ground supplies
February 13, 2020 | View PDF
Wasco is once again on a restricted watering schedule.
"Wasco is part of a group of cities and irrigation districts in a management area that implements the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), which requires local water users to bring groundwater use to sustainable levels by the early 2040s," City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez said.
"SGMA directs local agencies and stakeholders to develop institutions, plans and implementation strategies to manage their groundwater resources sustainably for the long run. If local agencies fail to act, SGMA directs the state to intervene."
This was directed by the San Joaquin Valley Public Policy Institute of California in its written report "Water and the Future of the San Joaquin Valley" dated February 2019.
Over the last 30 years, net water use has been fairly stable, but groundwater overdraft has increased from 1988–2002. Overdraft contributed only 8% of net water use in the valley from 2003–2017. Its share rose to 15%.
To close the groundwater deficit, groundwater sustainability agencies in the valley's overused basins will have to supplement supplies, reduce demands or use some combination of these two approaches.
Ortiz-Hernandez shared six "significant and unreasonable" effects such as 1) drawing water levels down too far; 2) depleting storage in the aquifer; 3) degrading water quality; 4) allowing seawater intrusion; 5) causing land to subside; or (6) using groundwater in ways that reduces others' surface water or harms ecosystems.
Worsening droughts, increasing regulations to protect endangered native fishes and the growing demand for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta imports in Southern California have also compounded surface water scarcity and increased pressure on groundwater resources.
In addition, since 1988, water users have been pumping more than what is being put back into the ground. To promote sustainability, it is important in the San Joaquin Valley that cities replace the water taken out of wells.
"Conservation matters," Ortiz-Hernandez said. "Until we know what is happening with the state and the final plan, we will continue with the water rationing."