SAN JOSE (KPIX) — On one of the warmest, sunniest days of the year, the lanes are flooded on Highway 101 in San Jose.
“It comes out of nowhere you know? You’re driving along, it’s a sunny day and all of a sudden it’s just a splash,” said Juno Pasta who works as a manager at Bruce’s Tire shop.
In just the past week, water about an inch deep has popped up out of nowhere in both the northbound and the southbound lanes just south of the 880 interchange.
Mechanics at the tire shop drive through the wet spots everyday.
“We go on a test drive and go through all this puddle, we come back and the customers are like, where did all this water come from?” Mr. Pasta said.
No one knows for sure but the Santa Clara Valley Water District has a hunch.
“We’re seeing some new historic groundwater levels in places,” said Vanessa De La Piedra.
Water officials say the area on Highway 101 where this is happening has been mapped out as having the shallowest groundwater in the valley, which can be less than ten feet.
De La Piedra said the flooding could be caused by a so-called artesian well.
Underground aquifers are full from all the recent rain and pressure is now forcing water to bubble up in weak spots in the surface.
“In a lot of areas, we have very shallow groundwater, which means the water table is just a few feet below the land surface. So during wet years, we get a lot more reports of that water being seen at the surface,” De La Piedra said.
Another artesian well popped up on Tasman Drive in Sunnyvale.
It is releasing so much water, a traffic lane had to be shut down.
“I’ve been working here 43 years and I’ve never seen this particular artesian well pop up,” said Doug Holt, who works nearby.
All that fresh clean water is just flowing down the drain.
“It’s a crying shame that we don’t have a way to pick it up and pump it into, let’s say, Sunnyvale golf course,” Mr. Holt said.
On Highway 101, there are pumps nearby but it’s unclear if they are working. Caltrans has not returned several calls for comment.
Drivers are starting to worry because the water is breaking down the asphalt and potholes are forming, making driving wet and bumpy.
“Potholes can cause suspension damage or cause someone to lose control and possibly get into a major accident,” said Mr. Pasta.