Though February brought more rain than January, Yolo County is facing yet another dry season, which may lead to a negative impact on water levels.
“The [drought is not only affecting Davis], but also the entire state,” said Blaine Hanson, an irrigation and drain specialist with UC Davis Extension. “We periodically get dry years and we periodically get wet years.“
The drought may affect Yolo County, especially in the agricultural sector.
“Farmers have very few options,” Hanson said. “If they only get 50 percent of the original water supply, they may have to irrigate 50 percent less than normal.“
Davis’s water supply comes from groundwater, he added.
“The drought means the groundwater costs more to pump,” Hanson said. “It does not necessarily mean they reduce water supply.“
However, there could be other potential risks from pumping too much ground water.
“Groundwater can be replenished and water levels can go into a non-sustainable decline,” said UC Davis professor of land, air and water resources Graham Fogg. “Negative impacts also include land subsidence, deteriorating water quality and high energy costs.“
However, Yolo County does not seemed to have reached that point yet, Fogg said.
“We just don’t know how much more groundwater pumping [Yolo County] can sustain.“
The water levels can recover if there is more rainfall.
“The system is capable for resilience,” Fogg said. “If we come out of the drought this year or next year, the groundwater system should recover.“
There may be huge consequences if the drought continues for the next 10 years.
“If we hit a 20 or 30 year drought like the pre-historical times, it would completely change how we operate,” Fogg said. “There would be less water for everybody, and it would be hard to conduct irrigated agriculture. There would be serious implications for the farmers and food supply.“
A solution behind this could be recycling water.
“Recycling water is like creating a new water source that we currently don’t have,” said Frank Loge, a UC Davis associate professor in civil and environmental engineering.
There are two main ways of recycling water. The first way is filtering water through waste treatment plants until the water is viewed as acceptable water being reused. The second way is using the graywater system, which recycles water from sinks and showers.
“If the drought continues, we may have to turn to those two methods,“ Loge said. “People perceive the risks of graywater as being great. There are ways to eliminate those risks and we need to sit down and think through those problems.“
As the drought continues, it should provide more motivation for different cities in Yolo County to start recycling water, Loge added.
“There are a lot of state regulations to make sure the water is safe.“
JANET HUNG can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.