Where Does Southern California Water Come From?

Since it is so easy to turn on the faucet and get water at any time of the day or night, it is rather easy to forget where our water actually comes from. In the Southern California region, it would seem like water would be readily available due to the proximity of the Pacific Ocean. In reality, we do not get any of our tap water from the largest source of water on the globe. Our water comes from places that surprise many residents.

Water from the Snowy Mountain Tops

Most of the water that comes into our homes and businesses comes from either the Rocky Mountains or the Sierra Nevadas in the form of snow melt. When the snow in the Sierra Nevadas melt, it travels into the northern Bay Delta, but some of the snow is pumped into the southern part of California for residents living in a boundary marked by Bakersfield, Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and San Diego. The snow melt from the Rocky Mountains takes its route through the Colorado River, making its way through the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam so it can supply residents in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California. Unfortunately, the Colorado River is tapped by so many communities that the once grand river just trickles into its final destination at the delta that leads into the Gulf of California.

Water from the Underground Aquifers

Southern California residents are often surprised to find that a significant amount of water comes from underground lakes in the Inland Empire. These giant lakes help supply water when dry years are unable to deliver enough water from snow melt. The underground lake water is pumped through wells where it is cleaned and combined with the snow melt water. Communities are relying on the underground water because of the droughts that have been occurring over the past several years. The underground aquifers act like banks where we are able to save up some water to use when we fall into an emergency situation. Some communities are not able to use the aquifers, so they are more vulnerable to drought conditions. One such place is Atlanta, Georgia. There are not any aquifers in the area and groundwater flows south into Florida and Alabama. The Empire City of the South is very vulnerable to water shortages and the latest one occurred just a few short years ago. Fortunately, Southern California and the Inland Empire have aquifers that collect groundwater. It is important that we take the necessary steps to ensure that our groundwater stays pollution-free so we can use it when we need it the most.

Using Desalination on Groundwater

We may not get water from the Pacific Ocean, but we do use salt water. The underground lakes contain salt water or brackish groundwater. Since desalination is possible, Southern California communities are able to remove the salt from the water in the aquifers. With reverse osmosis, salt can be safely and effectively removed from groundwater. We do not use desalination with ocean water because the process is rather costly and requires a significant amount of energy. The Australians are using desalination on a large scale because they have been suffering from fresh water droughts for years. Without desalination, the Australian population would not have any fresh water to drink. As the Australians continue to refine the desalination process, Southern California communities continue to watch and see what developments occur to make the process less costly. Until that time, Southern California water organizations have been working together to build a brine line to keep salt out of the groundwater. This brine line is made of large pipes that move water used in manufacturing and industry so the salt can be quickly removed and sent into the Pacific Ocean.

If you have any questions about the quality of your water and where your water comes from, please contact us at 714-987-9801 or 949-462-9773.