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.
More information on groundwater and recharge can be found on https://water.ca.gov/Water-Basics/Groundwater.
Recent Groundwater Recharge Projects
Check out our most recent groundwater recharge project video featuring the Sacramento Regional Water Bank.
Links to other project videos
- James Irrigation District
- Consolidated Irrigation District
- Fresno Irrigation District
- City of Roseville Aquifer Storage and Recovery
- Terranova Ranch
- Dunnigan Area Recharge Projects
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.
- Executive Order N-3-23
- CEQA suspension for groundwater recharge projects (Fact Sheet)
- Regulatory assistance for temporary permits (Fact Sheet)
- Water rights permits for groundwater recharge
- California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) consultation on water rights
- Executive Order N-4-23
- DWR Public Inquiry Form on the Executive Order
- Tutorial video on data tools for Executive Order reporting
- Open Data Portal webpage
- State Water Resources Control Board Executive Order Reporting webpage
- March 23 Webinar - Executive Order N-4-23: Floodwater Capture and Groundwater Recharge
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.