Stories from California: The Water Beneath Our Feet

The sixth in an eight-part series from multimedia documentarian jesikah maria ross about the people, land, and stories of rural California’s Cache Creek.

This is one of the cool places to learn about groundwater, even though most people think about the creek and the wildlife. It’s a link to this underground world that’s right here on the surface. —Max Stevenson, Water Resources Scientist

How often do you think about groundwater? If you’re me, not too much. Every now and again it comes to mind when I read about aquifers, but otherwise, groundwater is not on my radar.

Which is why I appreciated Max Stevenson’s obvious passion for the stuff. As a Water Resources Scientist working for the Yolo County Flood Control and Conservation District, it makes sense that Max has a thing for water. (Most of us do, but more for the above ground types—lakes, rivers, streams.) As part of the Restore/Restory project, Max took student audio-recordists down to Cache Creek and held forth on the importance of groundwater in our lives. In the process, he helped participating youth and adults (ahem, me) realize why it’s as crucial to care for our groundwater as it is to properly manage our creek water. Even better, he showed us the ways his team manually operates the water system and how it isn’t all that much different than what folks did before the 1900s—except that today they use pick-up trucks instead of horses. Now I know why Max is always wearing a hardhat and rubber boots.

Give Max a listen and share stories about groundwater in your home place. —jesikah maria ross

Go here to learn more the workings of groundwater at Cache Creek. To read and listen to other perspectives on the history of the area, visit