Wells Dry as Ground Water Lowers

Jan 11, 2013 8:10 PM

A new problem is welling up in Tehama County. In the last year, groundwater levels have dropped dramatically, causing big problems for some homeowners.

Winter has been good to Harry Johnson, recent rains have trickled down, filling up his well. But when he moved in to his home this summer, the story was different.

“The well went dry and all of a sudden there was not water,” said Johnson.

Johnson is one of many in the antelope area, just outside of Red Bluff, that have had their wells go dry.

“Yeah you would be taking a shower, you know doing the dishes or whatever and you would go out of water,” said Johnson.

One of the reasons for the lack of water can be seen at Lake Red Bluff. Up until last year, water would have been five to ten feet higher six months out of the year, but since the diversion dam has been out of operation, the water level has been much lower, meaning also that the water table is much lower.

“If you have a very shallow well and you have a water body next to it, i.e. lake red bluff and you change the water level in the lake, you could see that reflected in the well,” said Jeanine Jones with the Department of Water Resources.

State and county officials have been examining the problem for a while.

“It didn't just happen yesterday, there has been a slow decline in the water and it has been tracked for a few years and at this point it is becoming more prevalent,” said Gary Antone with Tehama County Public Works.

The problem for homeowners is there is not much of a solution other than extending Red Bluff water mains beyond city limits.

“The other option would be to drill your well deeper and obviously either way it it costly for the home owner,” said Johnson.

At $10,000 it’s a cost Johnson says he cannot afford.

“I don’t want to move but I don’t want to have to go in debt to have a well,” said Johnson.

Officials say lack of rain water last winter contributed to the problem.

Residents almost need to double the depth of their wells or they could see more problems come summer.


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