707-769-2008   *  SONOMA COUNTY   *   CA   *  94951



Well, well, well . . .


(click on map to download high resolution version)

Dr. Steve Carle, the O.W.L. Foundation's hydrologist and chief science advisor, has created a map of the south Santa Rosa plain. This map uses data supplied by homeowners to John King and tthe South County Resource Preservation Committee. These well owners have had to lower pumps, drill new wells (because old wells went dry), or truck water to their property because groundwaterdissapeared completely.

The map also shows other groundwater wells: municipal wells, Department of Water Resources (DWR) monitoring wells, local district or private company wells, and Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) wells.

There is no question that the south Santa Rosa plain groundwater is dropping to dangerous levels.

The large blue star at the upper left of the map marks one of three wells operated by SCWA. These wells lay just outside of Sebastopol and most interestingly outside of a famous groundwater study area (marked with a blue line in the map). The area within the blue line, which encompasses Rohnert Park, Cotati and SSU, has been calculated to recharge at 1.6 million gallons a day (an annualized figure).

However, just this one SCWA well marked on this map draws an average annualized 1.7 million gallons of water a day. This one well alone removes more water from the ground than the entire blue line area manages to refill naturally.

Now add the water consumers in Coatai, rural Penngrove, Sonoma State University and Rohnert Park. Rohnert Park ALONE, has pumped an average over 4 million gallons per day since 1984! And yet the recharge rate within the blue line (part of Rohnert Park's own hydrologic study) refills at only 1.6 million gallons a day.

There is a more complete examination of this area's groundwater deficiency here:


Let's return to the SCWA well. This well is one of three wells located within a mile of Sebastopol. Together, these three wells remove 5.4 million gallons of groundwater every day. In a year, they remove 1.8 billion gallons of groundwater.

Sebastopol is the only city in Sonoma County that does not buy water from the SCWA aqueduct. Sebastopol relies on groundwater wells. All of Sebastopol's municipal wells, together, pump about 1.4 million gallons a day, remember the SCWA wells pump 5.4 million gallons a day. So, in effect, Sebastopol has the equivalent of a city of 30,000 people pumping groundwater out of the ground only a mile away. But the city is invisible, only three small-looking pump houses betray the existence of such a massive (1.8 billion gallons a year) water-consumer.

SCWA has already completed studies to add two more wells of comparable size nearby. Originally, these wells were marked as "emergency" wells even though they were in operation 24 hours a day for years and no emergency had ever been declared. The names were recently changed and these wells are now a crucial part of the SCWA infrastructure. Anywhere from 28% to 30% of SCWA water is sold to Marin County.

The yellow triangles represent domestic wells that have gone dry. Owners either were forced to lower well pumps or had to drill new wells or a deeper well. Some of those yellow triangles represent well owners who now truck water to their properties because all groundwater is gone.

The yellow triangle with the number "80" represents the 80 houses at Cold Springs housing community (at the base of Sonoma Mountain off Lichau Road). The first well this community water company drilled was over 1,000 feet. The well produced a meager 14 gallons a minute---far too little volume to serve 80 homes. The company went down the road and sank a 900 foot well and found ample water. The second well cost $250,000.

Notice the large red square situated within the blue line and next to Rohnert Park. This is the proposed location for a casino that will have federal water rights. For more on this situation and how this casino puts at risk every water right in Sonoma County, see this page:


SCWA has told its contractors (the cities and water districts that buy water delivered through the SCWA aqueduct) that the Agncy will NOT have enough water to supply projected growth figures. SCWA says that contractors should make up the shortfall by pumping even more groundwater. Petaluma has 21 groundwater wells that already pump over a million gallons a day.When the SCWA deliveries fail to supply the projected growth, Petaluma will undoubtedly be forced to increase pumping, dropping the water table even further.

Many useful links in the library. Click above.

O.W.L. Foundation


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