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Does California’s Record Rainfall Mean Better Well Conditions?

After a nearly five-year drought across the state of California, we are finally starting to see some relief. January has been a bit of a miracle month for our state. We’ve seen about double the amount of precipitation in California for this time of year, and some experts are saying that this could finally mean the end of the water shortage we’ve been dealing with for so long.

With all this rainfall, it would be easy to make the assumption that groundwater levels will be rising, and that locating well water in California would be much easier. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Groundwater and rainwater, although definitely intertwined, do not necessarily correlate. An increase in rainfall does not necessarily mean an increase in groundwater.

We’re all familiar with the story of the tortoise and the hare, and the motto that goes with it: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Well, the same idea applies when we’re talking about rainwater and groundwater. Rainwater is like the hare in the story. The sky opens up and the rainwater comes rushing down to earth in torrents, but it often never even reaches the inner parts of the earth where it can become groundwater.

If you’ve ever taken the time to look at the ground during a rainstorm, you’ll always notice little rivers making their way downhill or across your yard. This is what we’d call surface runoff. Surface runoff is the flow of water that occurs when excess storm water flows across the earth’s surface. With the types of storms we’ve been having in California recently, the rainwater comes down so quickly that it doesn’t even have a chance to seep into the ground. Instead, it makes its way across the surface of the ground until it reaches a receiving body of water such as a stream or river.

So if rainwater is the hare in our comparison, where does the tortoise come in? Snow is actually the slow winner in our situation. Even if snow comes down fast and furious and accumulates on top of the ground, it will still melt at a very slow rate. Water from melting snow has the time to permeate the ground and become part of a groundwater reservoir. At the end of the day, the much slower process of snow melting is more helpful in increasing groundwater supply than the heaviest rainstorm could ever be.

Although the most recent rainstorms in California may not be helping the groundwater situation, the good news is that we’ve seen record snowfalls in parts of northern California during the past few months as well. So if you’re looking to drill a new well this year, give us a call now to start the process. As we move forward into the spring and things begin to warm up, we can hope to see groundwater levels rising, which will be ideal if you’re looking at locating well water in California in 2017. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment, please get in touch with National Groundwater Surveyor Inc. today!

From single family home sites to large agricultural wells, call National Groundwater Surveyor at 800-980-7429.

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