[BAY FEATURE]Bay Area Drought Watch

BAY FEATURE

Coverage of California's looming water problem

Drilling in South Bay to Replenish Wells Running Dry Due to California Drought

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    NEWSLETTERS

    California's severe drought is now impacting Bay Area residents who rely on well water for their homes and farmlands. In some cases, some residents are hauling water to fill the tanks. Michelle Roberts reports. (Published Monday, Jun 23, 2014)

    California's severe drought is now impacting Bay Area residents who rely on well water for their homes and farmlands.

    A neighborhood in Morgan Hill was forced to invest in another well to make it through the drought. Homeowners in the area said they are doing their part to conserve water by taking shorter showers and watering less often. Residents are worried about having enough water to fight fires.

    For Tom Guardino, that means he is being called on to drill deeper to find more water.

    Guardino, a third-generation driller, said he has never seen the conditions so dry. He has been bombarded by calls lately requesting his services.

    On Monday, Guardino worked on a walnut farm in Gilroy that depends on a well that is running low.

    Alan Johnson, who had to put in a new well last summer, also is impacted by the drought. Johnson lives in the Morgan Hill foothills, where the ground retains even less water.

    "I showered once and had soap all over me and couldn't wash out," he said.

    Johnson said his water supply has been OK since last summer, but now his neighbors are about to drill. With a limited resource to tap into, any new well means more competition for the dwindling water supply.

    "It's a fact of life living in the hills," Johnson said. "The wells are still feeding water, but not at the rates they did 10 years ago."

    Drillers in the mountains could go about 200 feet down to hit water 30 years ago. Now the ground is so dry drillers must dig down to about 800 feet to a 1,000 feet to tap into any water.

    A new well cost upward of $50,000. The other option is for residents to truck water in, which Johnson said he will likely do this summer.