More than 50 percent of the United States population relies on groundwater as their primary source of drinking water. This number includes just about everyone who lives in a rural area, away from the municipal water grids associated with more populous urban, metropolitan areas. Indeed, it is especially important for farmers, who rely on groundwater on a massive scale to irrigate their crops.
But what exactly is groundwater in California, and how is it accessed for the purposes of drinking, irrigation or other uses in residential, commercial and agricultural settings? Here’s some information from a water surveyor.
All about groundwater
Groundwater is the water that fills the spaces between the layers of soil particles, fractured rocks and other sediment under the surface of the earth. These spaces and layers are called aquifers. They are typically made up of sand, gravel, sandstone or other types of fractured rock, such as limestone.
Water is able to move through these layers of materials because the large spaces among and between them make them permeable. The rate at which this water (the “groundwater,” called such because it is water moving through the ground) travels then depends on how large these spaces are among the rock and soil, and how well those spaces are connected to each other. The larger the spaces and the greater the connectivity between aquifers, the faster that water will move.
You can find groundwater just about anywhere. The water table could be shallow or deep, or it could rise and fall significantly depending on a variety of factors, such as heavy rains, large amounts of melting snow or the amount of pumping of groundwater supplies.
Groundwater in California is considered a renewable resource, because it is replenished and restocked when rain and melted snow flows down from the earth’s surface into the aquifers. In some parts of the world, there can be serious groundwater shortages caused by groundwater being used faster than it can be replenished naturally. In other areas, shortages are caused by pollution from everyday human activities, or from landfills, underground gas tanks, septic tanks and overuse of pesticides and fertilizers.
Accessing the groundwater
The water found in aquifers can be naturally brought up to the surface through springs, or it can flow out into lakes, creeks or streams. The most common manmade method of bringing groundwater to the surface is through the creation of wells, which get drilled down into the aquifer. These wells feature pipes in the ground that fill with groundwater and come up to the surface through a pump.
If the well is drilled too shallow, it could go dry if the water table falls below the bottom of the well. Other wells, known as artisanal wells, do not require pumping because they have natural pressure that brings the water up through the well.
Still interested in learning more about what groundwater is and how it’s accessed for human use? Contact National Groundwater Surveyor Inc. today to ask about our groundwater surveying services. We look forward to helping you!
From single family home sites to large agricultural wells, call National Groundwater Surveyor at 800-980-7429.
We also provide Groundwater Surveys in Nevada and Oregon!