Historic 2023 Water Year Boosts California’s Groundwater Supplies

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the latest Semi-Annual Groundwater Conditions report, and the data show that California achieved 4.1 million acre-feet of managed groundwater recharge during Water Year 2023. The report also details an increase in groundwater storage of 8.7 million acre-feet. This is the first year since 2019 that there has been a reported increase in groundwater storage. A significant reduction in groundwater pumping in 2023 also led to favorable groundwater conditions, including a decrease in land subsidence, or sinking of the land. Some areas that had previously experienced subsidence actually saw a rebound (uplift) in ground surface elevation from reduced pumping in the deeper aquifers and refilling of groundwater storage. This latest report includes, for the first time, groundwater sustainability plan Annual Report data reported by local groundwater sustainability agencies (GSAs) across 99 groundwater basins which make up over 90 percent of the groundwater use in the State. Paul Gosselin, DWR Deputy Director of Sustainable Water Management stated, “The impressive recharge numbers in 2023 are the result of hard work by the local agencies combined with dedicated efforts from the state, but we must do more to be prepared to capture and store water when the wet years come.”  During the 2023 Water Year, more than 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater recharge was permitted by state agencies, more than 400,000 acre-feet of flood water was recharged using the Governor’s Executive Orders, and millions more acre-feet of managed and naturally occurring recharge was achieved.