Regional Groundwater Use

Both surface water and groundwater support municipal and industrial (M&I), agricultural and domestic activities. Additionally, some groundwater is extracted as part of contamination cleanup activities.

Groundwater production in the North Basin increased during 2013 and then decreased thereafter to a volume nearly equal to 2011, which was lower than any year during the SGA review period (2000-15). This reduction was in large part due to conservation efforts during the middle of the recent drought conditions.

Overall, local water agencies extracted a total of 79,264 acre-feet during 2013, an increase of nearly 15 percent over 2012. During 2014 and 2015, groundwater production decreased to 74,508 and 62,055 acre-feet, respectively. The latter volume is quite similar to the 2011 volume of 61,954 acre-feet.

Shifting to Groundwater During Drought

The Sacramento region has been moving toward more conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater depending on hydrologic conditions. Conjunctive use is the coordinated use of surface water during wet years and groundwater during dry years.

This trend is not as evident between 2000 and 2010 when, for example, significantly more surface water was used in 2008 even though it was classified as a drier year. In 2010, however, additional Water Forum requirements related to surface water use came into effect. Since that time, conjunctive use has increased. For example, 2010, 2011 and 2012, which classified as wet or average, used more surface water than groundwater. The three latest dry years, 2013, 2014, and 2015 all saw more groundwater used than surface water.

In addition, the region’s overall water use has decreased during the past decade, which is related to increases in water use efficiency. The additional conservation measures in response to drought conditions in 2014 and 2015 are also evident. The region conserved approximately 20 percent in 2014 and 30 percent in 2015 compared to 2013.

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