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California Increases Groundwater Supply

WHAT TO KNOW: For the first time since 2019, California’s groundwater storage has increased – a direct result of state and local actions to capture and store more water underground during last year’s historic wet season.

SACRAMENTO – California achieved 4.1 million acre-feet of managed groundwater recharge in 2023, with an overall increase in groundwater storage of 8.7 million acre-feet – equivalent to 26.1 million households’ usage over an entire year.

Governor Gavin Newsom and the state took action to help local communities during last year’s wet season, expanding groundwater recharge by 1.6 million acre-feet:

  • Executive orders and legislation to capture more water. Governor Newsom signed executive orders to expand groundwater recharge by 400,000 acre-feet, as well as signing legislation to build more infrastructure.
  • Fast-tracking groundwater recharge projects. The state streamlined groundwater recharge permits to allow for 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater recharge, as well as investing in groundwater recharge projects.
  • Maximizing stormwater capture. Investing millions for 67 stormwater projects to take advantage of major storm events.
  • Ambitious goals. Setting the statewide goal to expand average annual groundwater recharge by at least 500,000 acre-feet as outlined in the Water Supply Strategy.

However, there is still a lot of work to do, as long-term groundwater storage remains in a deficit of nearly 40 million acre-feet over the past two decades.

2023 Groundwater Conditions Report

Recharging groundwater is key to California’s strategy for expanding water supplies and defending against hotter and drier conditions. Last month, Governor Newsom highlighted the state’s plans to protect water supplies for all Californians.

California’s other actions to boost future water supplies include:

  • Billions of dollars in water investments over the last three years. Track water projects in your community at build.ca.gov.
  • Expanded water supply and storage through groundwater recharge and other projects by over 400 billion gallons.

Streamlining projects and limiting litigation delays to spur new and improved water infrastructure.

More is needed to expand California’s water supplies. During this year’s storms alone, the Delta Conveyance Project could’ve captured enough water to supply 9.6 million people; the streamlined Sites Reservoir Project could hold enough water for 32 million households’ yearly usage.

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