In our town of Los Altos, California, we had no rain in July and August, as usual, during the dry summer of our Mediterranean climate. August was our third consecutive month with no rain, and California’s drought is in its fifth year.
Above, a female Anna’s hummingbird sips on blossoms in our backyard in July.
Los Altos normally gets little or no rain during June, July, and August — the hottest time of the year.
July and August were cooler than usual, reducing water requirements for plants.
This year we increased managed recharge of the aquifer and reduced pumping due to water conservation so that the managed recharge exceeds pumping — which is very good.
For the index well shown above, the groundwater declined in the summer every year from 2004 to 2014, but in 2015 (the fourth year of our drought) the groundwater elevation increased every month. In early 2016, the annual groundwater report disclosed that groundwater in the aquifer declined last year.
Reporting good news every month during the year and later summarizing the year as bad news is misleading. If you choose to report only a single indicator during the year, the indicator should at least get the trend (upward or downward) right.
A county agency that manages our water. I asked them about this data, and they responded:
- The groundwater elevation at the index well increased only in 2015 because of 27% water conservation and 31% reduced pumping in 2015. (For example, if pumping is curtailed near the index well in 2015, then the groundwater elevation there would be higher than prior years.)
- They also noted that their index well reported higher groundwater while the aquifer groundwater declined in 2015. They’re updating the Groundwater Management Plan, so they might not have time to report another index well.
At my request, they’ve included me as a stakeholder for the upcoming Groundwater Management Plan.