Well waters funding thirst

By Benjamin Bassham, Staff Writer

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) is paying Contra Costa College $1,500 per year to access the well on campus and survey local groundwater.

Tom Francis, senior civil engineer for EBMUD’s water supply improvements division, said the water company is obligated under the California Statewide Groundwater Elevation Monitoring (CASGEM) to inspect groundwater levels in its territory.

EBMUD was not previously monitoring this area, but under pressure from the drought the space being monitored is being expanded to include EBMUD’s northern territory.

An agreement approved through the district Governing Board will allow EBMUD to access what it needs to meet the state’s mandate.

Today the college well’s cap will be adjusted to make the necessary measurements possible.

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said the well, which lurks on the sidelines of the Soccer Field, was installed in 2010 by recommendation from the campus Sustainability Committee. The well is 400 feet deep, but water is taken at 270 feet to water the athletic fields.

Francis said, “(The state) is trying to provide to the public information over time on the groundwater level.”

According to CASGEM’s description on water.ca.gov, measurements will be taken every spring and fall “to track seasonal and long-term trends in groundwater elevations in California’s groundwater basins.”

College Technology Systems Manager James Eyestone, who was on the newly formed committee when the well was constructed, said, “We weren’t in a drought when we decided to buy it, but we’re certainly glad we did.”

The nearby, but closed, El Portal Elementary School had used a well to water its fields for over 15 years, and it seemed sensible that CCC could do the same, he  said.

CCC’s well is one of three wells in EBMUD’s northern territory that are being tapped to examine local groundwater.

King said the athletic fields were about 50 percent of CCC’s water use, except for the AstroTurf football field.