The Salinas Valley Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency (SVBGSA) is partnering with the State Department of Water Resources to collect information about domestic wells that have failed during California’s prolonged drought.

The Dry Well Reporting System is a free, easy-to-use online tool that tracks wells that have gone dry across California. The data is used to inform state and local agencies about drought impacts on residential water supplies and helps to develop strategies that support long-term sustainability for groundwater sources.

In early 2023, one well was reported as dry in Monterey County, just outside of SVBGSA’s jurisdiction in the area of Royal Oaks. However, one data point doesn’t begin to describe the conditions in the County. It is an underutilized reporting tool.

Residential wells typically go dry before wells that serve agriculture or municipal users because the residential wells are shallower. Often in the Salinas Valley Basin, these shallow, residential wells are located in disadvantaged communities (DACs) where poverty, unemployment, pollution and other economic, emotional and environmental burdens are present. Many people whose wells are going dry are unable to replace the wells and instead purchase bottled drinking water. The loss of clean, reliable drinking water adds to the challenges these DACs already face.

By utilizing the Dry Well Reporting System, impacted residents also can discover helpful resources. Information submitted through the site, including well owner name, contact information and personal address, will not be visible to the public.

Collecting and analyzing data on dry wells will help SVBGSA observe local occurrences in SVBGSA’s six subbasins. While the agency has a network of monitoring wells to detect trends in groundwater levels, awareness of specific dry wells will provide more detailed data to the agency. All six subbasins have dry well notification as an implementation action in their Groundwater Sustainability Plans.