Improving soil health across the state can increase California’s groundwater storage by about 10% overall, and up to 30% in some places. Researchers discussed this potential during a CalEPA research symposium on climate change Wednesday.

"Soil health is something that should be really considered more in a sort of holistic way in response to climate change,” said Lorraine Flint, a soil scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey. “The better your soil health is, the more you're maintaining water in the watershed, you're increasing your recharge, you're reducing fast runoff and water quality issues.”

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In a warming California, as much as 60% of the snowpack could be lost. Much of the precipitation will fall as rain during intense storms, making it challenging to store in reservoirs. Flooding will be exacerbated by intense wildfires in upper watersheds, which destroy soil health and further reduce water retention.

UCLA climate scientist Alex Hall said this decrease in snowpack has to be compensated “by an increase in other forms of storage” to maintain the state’s water resources.