Welcome to the “Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater” website!

Welcome to the Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater website! We believe water is too precious a resource to be wasted, especially in light of the predicted megadroughts, and the City’s long-standing tradition of being a leader in developing and implementing sound policies for sustainability and environmental protection.

12-2-15 Latest News: Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater team members have been busy gathering signatures requesting a moratorium on dewatering for residential basement construction until City Policies are revised to require construction practices and/or zoning policies that greatly reduce or eliminate the waste of groundwater, address the effects of dewatering for residential basement construction on our properties, on Palo Alto’s infrastructure and on our canopy, and mitigate the impacts of  basements on the City’s stormwater handling capabilities in areas of high groundwater. If you agree this is an important issue, please subscribe to this blog  by entering your e-mail address in the box to the right.

Many of our members have written letters to the City Council and for the past two months we’ve had concerned residents speak to City Council every week during Oral Communications.  The City is taking some notice and has agreed to hold a Policy and Services Committee Meeting on the issue of dewatering on Dec. 8th, tentatively scheduled for  6 pm at City Hall. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend to show your support for this issue that affects our groundwater – as environmental expert Dr. Jeffrey Koseff says – our savings account for future droughts.  The City will send us a confirmation notice regarding the time, date and location which we will post here.


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4 Responses to Welcome to the “Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater” website!

  1. Ken Regenos says:

    I am one of the ground water users. I don’t remove it from the aquifer, but I do extract with my Geothermal System heat in the winter and put it back in the winter. It has been in use for 35 years until early November when the aquifer dried up and now, this week it is finally operating again, but at a low efficiency. I can live through this by switching to 100% electric heating which increased my electrical bill in November by $450.00.
    I am also concerned about the decreasing size of the aquifer as it surely shrinks in size as the ground subsides above it while being depleted of water primarily due to dewatering.
    I haven’t seen any discussion of the water quality, but 35 years ago I had it tested and it was contaminated with e coli bacteria which is not surprising since the aquifer is penetrated continually by construction, dry wells, etc.

    • Keith Bennett says:

      I approved your comment, thank you.

      Could you let me know where you live and the approximate depth of the intake for your geothermal system?

      Last winter was a relatively “normal” rain year in Palo Alto and locally, so in the absence of pumping of groundwater, the aquifer levels should be relatively normal.
      (It turns out that during the dry periods, the low level of the shallow aquifer is almost independent of the amount of rain the previous winter. The aquifer likely has areas that are more like ponds; when the water is high (during the rainy season), it flows, but when the water is low, it just stays put. The details are very location specific – the internal structure of the aquifer is moderately complex, and in fact, has multiple levels.

      • Ken Regenos says:

        I live in the 1400 block of Edgewood Drive.
        The intake for the geothermal system is 29 feet below the ground level. When I measured the water level (non-pumping level) last week it was about 9 feet above the intake level. I believe that is about 4 feet lower than the normal level.

        The water flow rate for the past 35 years has been 8 gal/min which is the design value, but about 1 Nov 2015 I had to turn the system off because the rate was far too low. When I started it up about a week ago the flow rate was 4.5 gal./min. limited by the water level being at the intake level so it is pumping air along with the water. At that flow rate the BTU output is down about 20%, but that is a lot better than using the all electric emergency heat. Hopefully, without too much dewatering it will be back in the normal range soon.

  2. Keith Bennett says:

    Thank you. Very interesting.
    The groundwater depth map on savepaloalto’s website.

    shows an estimated “typical” depth of the groundwater in your area as 10 – 15 feet below grade, depending upon exactly where you live, so yes, you are correct, if the groundwater is 20 feet down, it’s ~5 feet lower than normal. Are the measurements are “static” measurements, i.e. with the pump off?

    Do you have records that indicate the “normal” seasonal fluctuations? A long history would be very interesting. I am aware of no long histories that include wet and dry years.
    I’d be happy to discuss privately if you send an e-mail to info@savepaloaltosgroundwater.org.

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