CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — With Folsom Lake looking more like a pond, and no way of knowing if the next rainy season will deliver, local water agencies are finding they have to dig deep.
“Water increasingly is a precious commodity as we live through this drought right now,” explained Congressman Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.
Bera met with managers of the Citrus Heights Water District Monday at the site of a well that taps into an aquifer 400 feet underground.
“When we think about water storage, people always think about dams and reservoirs and things like that. But the aquifer, really, is probably one of our biggest opportunities to store water,” Bera said while talking to Citrus Heights Water District Water Resources Supervisor Brian Hensley.
“Correct. There’s much more room for storage below,” Hensley responded.
Hensley says during a good year, the district only needs to get about 3% of its water from the well, but in a dry year, the well provides 30% of the city’s water.
“So, the groundwater levels have been doing very well. And a lot of that has to do with the SGA, which is the Sacramento Groundwater Authority, that has put in a groundwater management plan for many years now.” Hensley explained.
The district applied for federal funding to build a new well for the city.
Bera says the U.S. House of Representatives approved $600,000 for the project in a bill now awaiting Senate approval.
“That’ll allow us to have that storage capacity. So, when we’re in dry years like we are right now, you cannot just rely on surface water, but you can also pull water out of the aquifer like this well is doing,” Bera explained.
After visiting the existing well, the water managers took Bera to the nearby site of the proposed one.
“So, this makes for a perfect site for us,” said Hilary Straus, the general manager for the Citrus Heights Water District.
District officials say the federal dollars, on top of local funding, would help get the shovels in the ground.
“It’s a real partnership. We’re extremely grateful and it has moved the project forward, and much sooner than we could have done otherwise. So, we’re very grateful,” Straus said.
The goal is not just to be able to tap into more underground water, but in a good year, the new well will be designed to take water from the surface and inject it back into the underground aquifer.
“Our region relies a lot on Folsom Lake and Folsom Reservoir. We need projects like this where, in the rainy months, we can capture that water, pump it down into the aquifer,” Bera said.
The wells in Citrus Heights tap into a water source inside a vast deep aquifer called the Mehrten Formation that is pressurized and less susceptible to the variations that come with extreme weather changes.