Groundwater and Us
How do we use groundwater?
“Beneficial User and Uses”
Communities, economies, and ecosystems all depend on groundwater for different uses. Water law in California requires that water is used in ways that are both beneficial and reasonable. This is why water uses and users are referenced as “beneficial uses and users”. Examples include households using water for drinking, farms using water for irrigation, restaurants using water for washing dishes, and habitats such as wetlands and streams. This term refers to all of the legal applications of how groundwater can be put to “beneficial use”.
Water quality affects how groundwater can be used.
Over time, groundwater can become contaminated. Groundwater contaminants can occur naturally or as a result of human-caused pollution (e.g. pesticides, dumping). In some cases, even if groundwater is available to pump from our wells, it may not be safe to use without additional treatment.
Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems
The many plants, animals, and ecosystems which rely on groundwater are known as “Groundwater-Dependent Ecosystems” or GDEs. Some trees’ roots rely on shallow groundwater, such as our local oaks, willows, and cottonwood trees. Wetlands and streams also rely on sustained groundwater levels, especially in late summer or fall or during droughts, to provide habitat for migratory birds, such as sandhill cranes, and fish, such as salmon.
Under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, beneficial users and uses must be engaged and considered in the development of local Groundwater Sustainability Plans.
How do we access groundwater?
Types of Wells
Groundwater is pumped to the surface through wells. These wells vary in size and depth. There are a few factors which help determine the type of well used to pump groundwater:
- The purpose or “beneficial use” of how the groundwater will be used (e.g. drinking water, crop irrigation, public water supply);and,
- The underlying geology underneath the well.
Groundwater in California
Find more resources & learn more!
Find your Groundwater Sustainability Agency
Subscribe to the Solano Collaborative for e-newsletters
Provide information about your water interests and needs
Provide comments on draft sections of the Groundwater Sustainability Plan
Attend a local meeting in your community