Groundwater Recharge

Groundwater Recharge Photo

View from a drone of a groundwater recharge project at Ball Ranch near San Joaquin River in Fresno County, California. Photo taken by the Department of Water Resources March 30, 2023.

Groundwater recharge is a key strategy throughout California to manage water through climate-driven weather extremes, including prolonged drought and periodic intense storm events, as identified in the Newsom Administration’s California’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future

During drier years, when there is less snowpack and precipitation, groundwater accounts for up to 60 percent of the State’s total water supply.

During wet years, groundwater recharge – where water moves down (infiltrates) from the ground surface or the bottom of a waterway into an underlying aquifer – helps balance and replenish groundwater basins for use during future dry and drought years. California’s groundwater basins can hold a massive amount of water – at least 850 million acre-feet, compared to the 50 million acre-feet that all the major above-ground reservoirs can hold combined. 

Groundwater Recharge in California – A Key Water Resilience Strategy:


More information on groundwater and recharge can be found on

Recent Groundwater Recharge Projects

Sacramento Regional Water Bank:


Links to other project videos

Actions to Expedite Flood Diversion and Recharge

The State is taking strong and coordinated steps to expedite and track groundwater recharge initiatives. These actions help mitigate impacts from ongoing reliance on groundwater during drought years and support local agencies who are striving towards long-term groundwater sustainability under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). 

Temporary Flood Diversion Equipment & Recharge Enhancement Initiative 

In April 2023, DWR launched a Temporary Flood Diversion Equipment and Recharge Enhancement Initiative to help local agencies maximize flood diversions and reduce flood risk from high flow conditions, with an added benefit of groundwater recharge. 

DWR is actively working with local agencies and equipment vendors to secure temporary flood diversion equipment – pumps and siphons – that can divert high flows off of rivers and move them to recharge areas managed by local agencies. On April 25, 2023, the first set of temporary pumps were deployed to Fresno Irrigation District where they are pumping water to divert Kings River flows away from the Tulare Lake Region to lessen flood conditions. The temporary flood diversion equipment provided through DWR’s support helps reduce flood risk and benefit communities that rely on groundwater wells in shallow aquifers by recharging the groundwater basins. For more information, see Press Release (5/9/2023) 

Clearing of Lands for Permanent Recharge: Rip and Chip Activities 

During recent drought years, local groundwater sustainability agencies have been working with landowners to acquire and fallow agricultural lands to develop permanent groundwater recharge basins. DWR is piloting an effort to support and accelerate this land clearing and transition to permanent recharge to expedite floodwater diversion. These activities include the removal and chipping of tree or vine crops, and deeply tilling or ‘ripping’ the soils.


February 13, 2023: Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order to Build Water Resilience Amid Climate Driven Extreme Weather

March 10, 2023: Governor Newsom Issues Executive Order to Use Floodwater to Recharge and Store Groundwater

March 31, 2023: 
Governor Newsom Issues Executive Order to Use Floodwater to Recharge and Store Groundwater focused in the Tulare Basin

May 17, 2023: Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order to Support Ongoing Central Valley Flood Response

Senate Bill 122 of 2023: Codifying Executive Order Language 

Section 25 of Senate Bill 122 (2023) modified California Water Code Section 1242.1, enacting some of the Executive Order language. SB 122 sets a sunset date of January 1, 2029.