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Water well problem underscores need to conserve

By Dave Jones on July 8, 2014 in University

UC Davis officials are renewing their call for water conservation, saying the California drought has reared its ugly head on the west campus.

Actually, the problem is “under” the west campus, where the water table at Domestic Well No. 7A — which normally provides 60 percent of the campus’s domestic supply — dropped 82 feet from April to June.

As a precaution, the campus cut the well's pumping rate; this reduces the drawdown to keep the water level higher than the intake.

No immediate impacts to the campus are anticipated, said David Phillips, director of utilities, because the campus’s other domestic wells are making up for Well No. 7A's decreased production. 

The five other wells are on the central and south campus, areas that Phillips said are not now affected by declining groundwater levels, though the campus has initiated additional studies.

He said the pump in Well No. 7A will probably need to be lowered to keep the well viable.

“Since our water supplies are 800 to 1,500 feet deep, I didn’t expect that we would see impacts from the drought so soon,” Phillips said.

At Well No. 7A, when the water table dropped below the point where water normally enters the pump, campus utility crews took the well out of service temporarily to evaluate the situation and study possible remedies, Phillips said.

A consulting hydrogeologist suspects the declining water levels are the result of decreased recharge into the deep aquifer during the past three years of drought, Phillips said. Additional groundwater pumping may also be a factor.

The well problem highlights the broad implications of the statewide drought, Phillips said.

All campus water users are encouraged to do their part to eliminate waste. “The campus is making good progress to reduce overall water use by 20 percent compared with last year, but everyone has a role to play,” he said. More about the campus’s drought response.

And here’s something else the campus is doing, just announced:

Campus customers that pay for their water (e.g., Student Housing, West Village, etc.) will receive an additional financial incentive to cut their water use. The incentives will be a rebate to be paid next July, in an amount proportional to water savings in fiscal year 2014-15.

For example, a 10 percent reduction in water use will net a rebate of 10 percent of the customer’s annual water bill, up to a maximum of 20 percent.

Additional details on the program will be communicated directly the campus water customers.


Sustainable 2nd Century: Water and Landscaping

UC Davis Water Dashboard

California Drought Watch

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Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,