Household water wells are drying up

  • 10.12.2022
  • LA Times

Across California, domestic wells are drying up in record numbers due to severe drought and the overpumping of underground aquifers. The crisis has hit rural farming areas particularly hard and left some families to fend for themselves or wait years for permanent solutions as nonprofits, state water officials and well drillers struggle with a growing backlog of assistance requests.

This year, nearly 1,400 household wells have been reported dry — a nearly 40% increase over the same period last year, and the highest annual number reported since 2013, when the California Department of Water Resources launched the Dry Well Reporting System. The actual number of dry wells is likely higher because reporting is voluntary.

Areas with the highest number of well failures included Fresno, Madera, Tulare and Tehama counties — Central Valley regions where surface water shortages have driven growers to drill deeper and deeper irrigation wells.

“We’re probably seeing more [dry wells] now than we’ve ever seen in the past,” said Tami McVay, program director of Self-Help Enterprises, a community development organization that, among other things, operates a tank and hauled-water program for low-income families.