Study: California Groundwater ‘Three Times Greater’ than Estimated

California Drought Lake McClure (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

A new study conducted by Stanford researchers suggests that California has groundwater resources “three time greater” than previously estimated.

The study was published June 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the study was authored by Robert Jackson and Mary Kang, both of whom are at the Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences. They discovered the water by “using a public database of California’s oil and gas wells to map the aquifers.”

Jackson said, “There’s far more fresh water and usable water than we expected.”

But here’s the catch: the water is extremely deep underground. And researchers outside Stanford say the depth makes any suggestion of using the water impractical.

Jay Lund directs the Center for Watershed Sciences director at UC Davis. He told the Mercury News, “Almost all of our current wells are 500 meters or less. So whether the freshwater goes down 2,000 or 3,000 meters, it doesn’t matter much.”  And senior water scientist Jay Famiglietti, with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said Jackson and Kang “have not ‘discovered’ more freshwater. They have simply included huge volumes of waters of very low, nonpotable quality in their estimates.”

US Davis’ Thomas Harter pointed out that the poor quality of the water combined with the cost of acquiring it at such depths are strong hindrances against retrieval.

Groundwater supplies have dwindled in recent years as the result of the California drought. Farmers have tapped wells in lieu of water allocations from federal water projects, which have been restricted — not only because of the drought, but because of the successful efforts of environmental groups to use the federal government to protect a small, endangered fish.

As a result, the ground has subsided in parts of the Central Valley. Gov. Jerry Brown recently moved to place the state groundwater’s supplies under government regulation — the first time that has ever been done.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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