Santa Clarita Valley water officials have closed three wells and modified others due to concerns about the water supply in the midst of a statewide drought.
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“There are several wells that have been shut down,” said Dirk Marks, water resources manager for the Castaic Lake Water Agency, which wholesales all of the Santa Clarita Valley’s water to retailers. “(Twoare) in the Pine Tree area (operated) by the Newhall County Water District. Also, there is a well out in Santa Clarita Water Division‘s service area.”
Santa Clarita water retailers and the Castaic Lake Water Agency officials are working together to plan for the future, officials said, despite historically low rainfall levels and a shallow levels in local aquifers, or natural underground water sources.
The Santa Clarita Valley has two aquifers — the Alluvial aquifer and the Saugus Formation. The wells that have been shut down are on the eastern side of the Santa Clarita Valley, where the alluvial aquifer is most shallow.
The Castaic Lake Water Agencies and local water retailers draw most of the local water supply from the two aquifers.
“It is due to the dry conditions, but it has happened before,” said Steve Cole, general Manager of the Newhall County Water District. “That portion of the aquifer is more shallow and what typically has
happened during these time periods is the pumping that is lost there is shifting to a different area.”
The Alluvial aquifer is about 200 feet deep and the sands and gravels in it tend to be thin towards the eastern side of valley, Marks said. In the west
“Like most of Southern California, our water levels are being stressed,” said Mauricio Guardado, retail manager for the Santa Clarita Water Division. “We have shut down one well and modified the flow rates of our other wells. We do have supplemental water from the imported supply and from the west end of the valley.”, it becomes much deeper. The Saugus Formation spans most of the valley and has a lot more water stored in it — about 1.5 million acre feet of water.
Since three of the wells have been shut down, the water retailers are working together more to transfer water throughout the valley.
“We continue to routinely monitor our wells,” said Guardado. “We want to make sure we’re not over extracting but putting our operational plan to good use.”
The water retailers and Castaic Lake Water Agency officials meet once per month to discuss water usage and to prepare for the future.
“We’ve worked for many years to prepare for a drought and are engaged in a new operating plan,” Guardado said. “The more people conserve, the better off we will be.
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“Although we have additional supplies, it will cost more money to extract those supplies and customers would have to pay more money. Conservation from our customers is going to help, not only get through this drought but to also keep the cost down.”
Many have noticed the drought, with lakes and reservoirs seeming to dry up.
Officials report that Castaic Lake’s water level has dropped more than 100 feet and most of the water from the reservoir goes to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Water District, with very little being used in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“To me, the bottom line is that this is an exceptional drought and all of our water resources are under stress,” said Marks. “We’re using local groundwater and imported water to be able to meet our demands because of our water management planning that we have done in the past. We have stored water in various programs, carefully managed local groundwater resources and make up for dried wells whether it be ground water or bringing in additional imported supplies.”
Photos courtesy of the Castaic Lake Water Agency.