Wet winter helps replenish groundwater supplies

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- With our streams and rivers running fast and high and all the snow piling up in the High Sierra, it certainly looks like California is well out of the drought, but what about beneath the surface?

"Right now our basin, fortunately, is at 98 percent full," said Carol Mahoney, Manager of Integrated Water Services for Zone 7, the water supply and flood control agency that serves Livermore and the Amador Valley.

RELATED: First time since Dec. 2011 California is not in a drought

Zone 7 relies on groundwater for about 20 percent of its water supply.

"We actually manage the groundwater basin in such a way that we're always replenishing the water that we're taking out and we've been doing that for 40 years," explained Mahoney.

That includes buying water from the state water project in past years to make up for nature's shortfall.

However, while some districts, like Zone 7 are flush with water both above and below ground, others are facing challenges that could take years to solve.

"It takes time for recharge to trickle down," said Tim Bodwin, a hydrologist with the California Department of Water Resources. "And we're going to need to measure to see just how effective this year's winter was in terms of groundwater recharge."

RELATED: Bay Area gets more rain than Seattle and Portland so far this year

Bodwin said the state will begin taking groundwater measurements in various areas around the state this spring.

Even with an abundance of moisture this year, Bay Area water managers want their customers to remember that the drought images is just one or two dry winters from returning.
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