Delta-Mendota Canal 2023. Photo from the California Department of Water Resources.
Delta-Mendota Canal 2023. Photo from the California Department of Water Resources.

This column was contributed by Shawn Novack, water conservation program manager with the Water Resources Association San Benito County. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.

Water Conservation is a Way of Life

The rain and snow this year really helped our water supply and ended our local water
restrictions, But…

1. Groundwater

When California’s reservoirs decline, many cities and farmers turn to another water
source: vast aquifers underground.

In drought years, groundwater supplies up to 60% of California’s water. But the pumping has been largely unregulated. Over the decades, water levels have fallen dramatically in California’s aquifers. And that water has never been brought back up to pre-drought levels. This is especially prevalent in the Central Valley.

2. Imported surface water from the Colorado River

Most of California’s major cities exist today because their water is delivered from
hundreds of miles away. Most of the state’s imported Colorado River water goes to
Southern California.

A two-decades long drought has hit the Colorado River hard, causing its
massive reservoirs, Lake Powell, and Lake Mead, to plummet. Climate change
is shrinking the snowpack that feeds the river, and the seven states that use it have long
made claim to more water than is available on average.

As the climate continues to change, California’s extremes are expected to get more
severe. Droughts will be drier and longer, putting even greater strain on the state’s
water supply. And wet years will be more intense, like this last year. We are learning to
adapt, but change is slow.

Saving water now could help keep reservoirs fuller, a safe bet in a state where next
year’s winter storms are never guaranteed.

After the last major drought ended in California in 2017, some water conservation
behavior seemed to stick. Water use did not rebound to pre-drought levels, because
some residents made lasting changes, like replacing water-hungry lawns and swapping
for more efficient fixtures and appliances.

The Water Resources Association of San Benito County can help you be efficient with
water use so we can all tackle the changing climate together. There are several
programs to assist you. Call 831-637-4378 to schedule a free leak check and irrigation
efficiency check. Or visit: to learn about their programs.

Summertime = peak water use.