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North Central Region Office Programs:
California-Nevada and
Watershed Assessment
Land & Water Use
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta
Surface Water

North Central Region Office
Department of Water Resources

(916) 376-9600

Street Address:

3500 Industrial Blvd.
West Sacramento, CA 95691

Mailing Address:

PO Box 942836
Sacramento, CA 94236

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For years, groundwater has been poorly understood. Few people realize that groundwater resources have a limit or that they could be lost to contamination or overuse.

As meeting California's water needs presents new challenges, the need to educate the public regarding the groundwater resource is becoming increasingly important.

In the California Water Plan, The Department of Water Resources has identified conjunctive use, water banking, and water transfers as viable alternatives for increasing California's overall water supply.

Improved and more comprehensive data collection and analysis will be needed to ensure that these activities can be undertaken without creating adverse groundwater impacts.

In the Sacramento Valley, groundwater plays an important role in meeting the water needs of people, industry, agriculture, and the environment. Many people rely solely on groundwater for their water needs.

Most industrial use of groundwater is by food processing plants, although other industries, power plants, and even government (for heating and cooling) rely heavily on groundwater. In addition, about 40% agricultural land in the Sacramento Valley are irrigated, at least partly, by groundwater.

The distinction between surface water and groundwater is sometimes difficult to distinguish. If groundwater levels are above water levels in adjacent streams, the groundwater system will discharge water to the stream increasing the flow in the stream. When groundwater levels are lower, however, water will leave the stream to recharge the groundwater system. This decreases flow in streams. When groundwater is near the surface it creates wetlands and other similar habitat.
(reference: USGS Circular 1139)

Actions to increase the overall water supply will require more understanding and protection of groundwater, especially from contamination and overuse. Monitoring and evaluation must be continued so that future groundwater issues are not overlooked or misunderstood.

Proper stewardship of California's groundwater is important to avoid quality degradation and land subsidence. Groundwater issues vary statewide, making it most suitable to local management.

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