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Critical Aquifer Overdraft Accelerates Degradation of Groundwater Quality in California’s Central Valley During Drought

Zeno F. Levy, Bryant C. Jurgens, Karen R. Burow, Stefan A. Voss, Kirsten E. Faulkner, Jose A. Arroyo-Lopez, Miranda S. Fram | September 1st, 2021

It has been established that wells are at risk to run dry when groundwater levels decline during drought, but associated impacts to water quality are poorly understood. This study examined 30 yr of data from California’s Central Valley to find dramatic groundwater-level declines during drought were associated with worsening groundwater quality. This likely happens because increased pumping during drought can draw shallow, contaminated groundwater to depths commonly tapped by public drinking water wells. This is the first study of its kind to show direct linkages between drought and groundwater quality at such a broad spatial scale


drinking water, Groundwater Exchange, groundwater pumping impacts, water quality

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