As a Stage 2 drought alert continues to plague the state of California and water users are urged to continue conservation measures, people with private wells on their property are finding their wells going dry.
“A lot of people have what we call ‘marginal’ wells,” said Tony Segarra of Gary Tanko Well Drilling, “wells that are in the 1-2 gallon a minute range and they can be affected by a drought.”
Segarra explained that El Dorado County wells get their water from aquifers instead of a water table as in the San Joaquin Valley. “Farmers in the valley aren’t able to get their water from the canals, so more of them are using wells. It’s like having a big lake of water; there are a lot of people in the same water zone and if a lot of people are using it, the level drops for all. An aquifer is more like a tributary of a river. People tap into it.” Segarra explained that two 5-acre parcels side by side may each have wells that access different aquifers. “The water flows of one don’t affect the other.”
“We were very busy at the first part of the year with people from Granite Bay. With the restrictions on watering landscape, there were a lot of people trying to see if they could open a well on their property for irrigation. For most, it was too expensive to drill a well, but we did a few of them.”
Segarra advised people with marginal wells to wait it out. “It seems to be a cycle and most people try to ride it out by conserving even more until the rain returns.”
“Most people don’t have a water storage tank and they pump right out of their well,” said Mariana Day, owner of a 5-gallon a minute well in Camino. Day has two 2,500-gallon water tanks and when her well began going dry three months ago, she took conservation measures. “I don’t water anything unless the water in the tank is at the top level.”
Day has lived on her 10 acres for 15 years. “It’s not the first time the well has struggled to fill the tanks, but it’s the first time I’m worried about it.”
Other wells on Day’s property are long abandoned. “There’s a company with a 1,500-gallon water truck in El Dorado Hills that can put water in my storage tank,” said Day, “but they charge $90 an hour to drive up here to do it. Still, it’s an alternative.”
Bob Brown of K&B Enterprises said drought conditions seem to last for two or three years on a 10-year cycle. “People can deepen their wells or drill another one, but that’s pretty expensive. They can put in a storage tank and haul in water and wait it out. More people seem to be looking for storage tanks for the drought instead of drilling wells,” said Brown. “What people might not know is that with our hard rock wells up here, we are about 18-24 months behind, so no matter how much rainfall or great a snowpack we get next year, we’ll still have drought issues and have to conserve for the next few years while we catch up.”
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.