Newsom signs legislation aimed at enhancing groundwater recharge

Earlier this week Governor Gavin Newsom signed the California Water Supply Solutions Act of 2023 into law.

SB 659, authored by California Sen. Angelique V. Ashby (D-Sacramento) and co-sponsored by the Regional Water Authority (RWA) and California Association of Winegrape Growers, aims to enhance groundwater recharge as a sustainable water supply for California.

The legislation directs the California Department of Water Resources to provide actionable recommendations to develop additional opportunities that increase the recharge of the state’s groundwater basins without reducing the amount of water available for environmental purposes. The bill also requires the plan to protect safe drinking water and maintain a high level of water quality.

“We extend our congratulations and gratitude to Gov. Newsom and Sen. Ashby for their leadership,” said RWA Executive Director Jim Peifer. “This legislation not only paves the way for a sustainable water future in California by enhancing the management of our natural infrastructure—the reservoirs under our feet—it is also vital to the Sacramento region.”

The Sacramento region’s water system faces a unique challenge with the swings from flood to drought projected with climate change: the need to release water from Folsom Reservoir to prevent flooding, rather than storing it for drier periods. Local water providers via the Regional Water Authority are working on a crucial strategy to store more water underground during wet times for use during dry periods, the Sacramento Regional Water Bank.

Over 90 percent of the Earth’s freshwater resides beneath the Earth’s crust. In the Sacramento region, it’s been estimated that groundwater aquifers can store about twice the volume of water as Folsom Reservoir. In California, the potential for groundwater storage is enormous: about 1.3 billion acre-feet, compared to 50 million acre-feet of surface water capacity.

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