Rising groundwater in California city creates new wave of issues for locals

California is no stranger to environmental challenges, including forest fires, droughts and water shortages. However, one of the latest challenges is the rising groundwater levels.

YORK, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 17: A flood defence pump operates as water levels in the River Ouse in York rise and cause flooding in low lying areas along the river on February 17, 2020 in York, England. Storm Dennis is the second named storm to bring extreme weather in a week and follows in the aftermath of Storm Ciara (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
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Californians haven’t had the greatest time in regard to recent flooding. Now, Claremont — a suburban community about 30 miles east of downtown Los Angeles — must deal with a different kind of flood threat after multiple heavy rain events this winter, The Weather Channel and other outlets are reporting.

Residents are faced with the prospect of historically high ground water, a byproduct of the winter rains. But that is not all. Combined with the release of water from the San Antonio Dam and rapidly melting snow pack, a “perfect storm” of problems exists as water is now percolating up from under ground.

City staff has asked several agencies — including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has in the last 15 days recorded a 20-foot decrease in dam water levels — to investigate the cause of the groundwater seepage, according to the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, the Six Basins Watermaster is working to recharge groundwater levels.

A backyard Irrigator is flooded. (Credit: The Weather Channel via Tony Ferguson)

Claremont resident Tony Ferguson told The Weather Channel that the water started flowing underground for about two miles and is now coming up from the ground at a rapid rate. “The water flow needs pumps to keep up and avoid flooding in the area,” he said. “As of now, it’s still flowing after five days now, and we’re letting city officials look into it.”

The Times reported that the affected homes — nearly 30 so far — are located in the Appalachian and Nashotah areas of the Stone Canyon development.

“There has been historically high groundwater in the area, and there are known springs and wet meadows in the neighborhood,” said Dena O’Dell, Public Affairs Chief of the Los Angeles District of the Army Corps, according to KTLA-TV Channel 5. “During this extremely wet winter and given the complex groundwater and geologic conditions, there are multiple sources of water that could be contributing to the current high groundwater situation.”

The National Weather Service out of Reno, Nevada, warns that, “Snow melt this season will be like an ultra marathon in duration, and they’re just getting started on the first mile.”

The further concern is that even if the water stops flowing, no one knows the consequences of what will happen underground two or three months from now. As the video (above) shows, many yards are flooded, leading to concerns about the structural integrity of homes.

A viewer submitted an image of backyard flooding. (Credit: The Weather Channel via Tony Ferguson)

Some residents have resorted to using sandbags, hoses and other means to further protect their homes from any intrusive water damage, Channel 5 reported.

Claremont officials have told residents to contact the City Building Division at (909) 399-5471 in case of any signs of damage or structural compromise, The Times reported.

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