North State drought update: wells, water transfers, water conservation

Mar 16, 2015 6:33 PM by Brian Johnson

A senior water scientist with NASA said California only has a year left of water in its reservoirs.

In an LA Times Op-Ed, the NASA scientist said that the state saw total water levels 34 million acre feet before normal last year.

It's a sobering prediction, and there's real reason for concern, said Butte County's Director of Water and Resource Conservation, Paul Gosselin.

"I think it's very concerning we're in the fourth critical dry year and probably out of the last 15 years, we've been in a very dry pattern of drought," Gosselin said.

That's why he said it's been all hands on deck for the county's water and resource conservation team.

"We're increasing our surveillance of groundwater levels, so working with DWR and other water agencies throughout the county," Gosselin said. "We're out monitoring this week for spring conditions and we'll be monitoring on a monthly basis throughout the entire year."

Gosselin said we've seen historic lows with some of the wells in the county, dropping five to 10 feet.

For that reason, he recommends well-owners get them checked out now.

He said Butte County water suppliers and consumers should be applauded for cutting back and conserving, although they should expect even more restrictions to be coming down from the state as soon as this week.

As for water transfers, Gosselin said groundwater transfers haven't happened in Butte County since the 1990s, the long-term federal transfers have yet to take effect, but there are sometimes fallowing transfers.

But the word he's gotten from water districts is they won't participate in them if they get their supply cut-which is looking more and more likely.

"So everyone's sort of in a waiting game to see what the next month brings in terms of final allocations and whether there's cutbacks and restrictions to water," Gosselin said.

Western Canal Water District's Ted Trimble tells Action News Now he's signed up 40 rice growers to be a part of idling or fallow transfers south of the delta, and growers would be compensated $700 dollars an acre-foot.

Trimble said if their allocations are cut, however, there will be no transfers.


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