Percolation pond

One of 71 percolation basins maintained by the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District puts water into the Bunker Hill Basin.

Like money in the bank, local groundwater aquifers have seen record-breaking deposits this year with a staggering 20 billion gallons saved so far and another two months still left in the water year, the San Bernardino Valley Water Conservation District has announced.

More than 61,000 acre-feet of snowmelt and rainfall has been diverted from Mill Creek and the Santa Ana River by the district and recharged into the groundwater basin for future use by those who pump water from the basin. Imported water was also used to help supplement the amount of water stored. (An acre-foot contains 326,000 gallons of water, enough to fill a football field a foot deep and to satisfy the needs of the average family for one to two years.)

General Manager Daniel Cozad attributes this year’s high recharge figures to a wet winter and the 2017 establishment of the San Bernardino Basin Groundwater Council: a group of local cities and water agencies helping to purchase imported State Project water for groundwater storage.

The water stored so far this year is enough to serve 180,000 families in Southern California for an entire year, Cozad said. It helps to replenish the water used during the prior drought periods and will help provide resiliency for future dry times.

“Our region is blessed with large underground aquifers that can store substantial amounts of water for use in times of severe drought,” Cozad said. “Thanks to our partner agencies on the Groundwater Council, we have been able to capture the rain that fell in the winter and spring and saw unprecedented collaboration to store as much water as our facilities can handle.”

The last time the region stored this much groundwater was in 1987, coming down from a period of successive wet winters. Prior to that, 20 billion gallons of storage had not been achieved since the late 1940s.

“We are excited and encouraged to see the large amount of storage achieved in such a short amount of time,” said San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District General Manager Douglas D. Headrick, whose agency imports the State Project water used to supplement recharge. The Valley District is one of more than a dozen members of the Groundwater Council.

The Groundwater Council is a 21st-century model for cooperation, where member agencies pitch in their fair share for the purchase of imported water to achieve optimum levels of water storage in the San Bernardino and Bunker Hill groundwater basins. Participation in the council is open to all groundwater producers in the San Bernardino Basin area.formation, visit sbvwcd.org.

Record groundwater recharge years

2017-18: 61,000 acre-feet

  • 2011: 53,986 acre-feet
  • 2010: 30,565 acre-feet
  • 2005: 56,980 acre-feet
  • 1998: 55,576 acre-feet
  • 1995: 35,876 acre-feet
  • Record set in 1922: 104,545 acre-feet