COLUMN: The importance of groundwater

National Groundwater Awareness Week is celebrated from March 10-16. It is an annual week of awareness, education, and advocacy focusing on one of the nation’s most precious resources.  

Groundwater is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand, and rock. It is stored in and moves slowly through geologic formations of soil, sand and rocks called aquifers.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has identified 68 regionally extensive aquifers that can be used as a source of drinking water across the country. Groundwater pumped from these aquifers provide nearly 50 percent of the nation’s drinking water.

Our local groundwater basin (North San Benito Basin) acts as an underground reservoir and is of utmost importance to our community. It helps us weather droughts and years with low allocations of imported Central Valley Project (CVP) water. The basin’s storage capacity is approximately 500,000 acre-feet of water.

For comparisons sake, San Luis Reservoir has a 2,000,000-acre foot capacity. The three above-ground reservoirs in our county (Hernandez, San Justo and Paicines) hold approximately 31,000 acre-feet combined. […]

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