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Local, state well owners urged to test groundwater amid extreme drought

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Groundwater levels and quality are often heavily impacted by drought conditions, which continue to worsen across California. Now, state and local water agencies are encouraging well owners to test their water and get their wells inspected.

“There’s over a million water wells in California and, because most of the state is under some level of drought at any given point, a majority of those may experience some impact of this drought,” said California Groundwater Association Spokesperson Ben Frech.

He said every well owner should be getting a general well inspection yearly. But those in heavily drought stricken areas should take extra steps, like getting their water level checked by certified water well contractors.

“They’ll be able to indicate, even if they don’t have a water supply problem right now, are they going to see a water supply problem in the coming months — in the next two, three, four months,” Frech said.

Frech said wells in ongoing drought areas should also get water quality tests. If the tests indicate well issues, well owners may have the option to add filtration systems, install more efficient pumps, or drill deeper. They may even be able to drill another well on the property.

The Central Coast is particularly vulnerable to drought conditions. San Luis Obispo County, specifically, relies heavily on groundwater.

Courtney Howard is the water resources division manager for the SLO County Public Works Department. She said there are thousands of wells in the county and, in recent years, they’ve seen a higher rate of them going dry or losing water quality.

“We did see quite a few reported in the 2015 time frame and are seeing those again through this drought,” Howard said.

Howard said the Adelaida area west of Paso Robles along with the Park Hill area east of Santa Margarita are particularly vulnerable to drought conditions.

Frech said well owners in need of inspections and testing should contact a certified well contractor as soon as possible. He said many people are seeing increased wait times due to labor and supply chain shortages for water well materials.

To find a local contractor, click here.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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