Recharge Roundtable Call to Action

From UC Water and the Groundwater Resources Association:

There are only two ways to reduce groundwater overdraft: decrease pumping or increase recharge.

While addressing California’s overdraft will certainly require both actions, we convened a meeting of water management experts around groundwater recharge. The goal of the “Recharge Roundtable” was to address California’s severe groundwater overdraft problem through actions that would produce substantial increases in recharge in the next five years.

As a collaboration between the Groundwater Resources Association of California and the University of California Water Security and Sustainability Research Initiative, we aimed to motivate focused actions that effect large quantities of recharge and produce regional benefits. The Recharge Roundtable participants and organizers produced a call to action, organized around six key questions and related action steps:

  1. How much water is hydrologically available for recharge?
  2. How much water can be recharged in different hydrogeologic environments?
  3. What are the legal and regulatory bottlenecks, and how can they be eliminated or reduced?
  4. How can hundreds to thousands of recharge projects be incentivized?
  5. What changes in reservoir reoperation and conveyance are needed?
  6. What are the water quality benefits and concerns for recharge?

It is increasingly obvious that tantalizing possibilities for increasing recharge to California’s aquifers exist, yet state and local water agencies and stakeholders are not sufficiently prepared to capitalize on those possibilities. This call to action is intended to help our state prepare.

Download the Call to Action:Recharge Roundtable Call to Action: Key Steps for Replenishing California Groundwater (Updated January 2019)

Groundwater replenishment, seawater intrusion project approved by Soquel Creek Water District

From California Water News Daily:

“The Soquel Creek Water District (SCWD) Board of Directors recently certified the Final Environmental Impact Report (Final EIR) for its proposed Pure Water Soquel Groundwater Replenishment and Seawater Intrusion Prevention Project (Project).

The Dec. 18 board of directors meeting saw the unanimous approval of the Project plan following staff presentations, board discussion, and public input by more than 25 attendees. … ”

Continue reading at California Water News Daily here:  Groundwater replenishment, seawater intrusion project approved by Soquel Creek Water District

FLOOD MAR LISTENING SESSION: Flood-MAR Agricultural Community Listening Session in Merced on January 14

From the Department of Water Resources:

On January 14th, please join us at a Flood-MAR Agricultural Community Listening Session to share your insights into potential barriers and challenges to implementing voluntary Flood-MAR projects in the Central Valley.

Event Description

In the fall of 2017, the State Board of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), with support from the Department of Water Resources (DWR), convened a public forum on Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). Participants identified a number of barriers and challenges to implementing Flood-MAR projects, such as permitting challenges and insufficient data and tools for identifying recharge potential and impacts to crops.

A key component in expanding Managed Aquifer Recharge is the willing participation of land owners. As potential implementers and beneficiaries, understanding the experiences, concerns, and questions of landowners within the agricultural and rural communities is critical to informing State and local agency planning and assistance, such as through DWR’s Flood-MAR program.  This “Listening Session” will be an opportunity for farmers and landowners to:

  • Share personal experiences or concerns about Flood-MAR implementation
  • Engage with and learn from farmers who have participated in pilot Flood-MAR projects
  • Advise on what incentives might encourage you to implement a Flood MAR project on your land
  • Learn about how State agencies are supporting the expansion of MAR

Date and Time: January 14, 2018 12:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: University of California Cooperative Extension
2145 Wardrobe Ave, Merced, CA  95341-6445

Please RSVP here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/flood-mar-ag-community-listening-session-tickets-52324219148

And please participate in our Landowner Experiences survey that will inform our conversation on January 14thhttps://csusaccce.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cHEzFu0uxLRpdrf

RESEARCH BRIEF: AquaCharge: A Design Tool for Balancing Groundwater Management Trade-Offs

From Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment:

“Many arid regions face groundwater security and reliability challenges, such as overdraft and climate change-driven precipitation shifts. Increasingly, water managers are considering recharging aquifers using stormwater and recycled water–Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR). These projects are hindered by a lack of tools to evaluate system design costs and trade-offs. Stanford researchers have developed AquaCharge, a planning tool that can optimize system costs and performance to help water managers make more informed decisions about how MAR can fit into water management strategies. … ”

Read this research brief here:  AquaCharge: A Design Tool for Balancing Groundwater Management Trade-Offs

‘Incentivized Managed Aquifer Recharge’ – Basin Scale Implementation of MAR

From Michael Campana at the Water Wired blog:

“A process of Incentivized Managed Aquifer Recharge, utilizing ownership of marketable Aquifer Recharge Units is being implemented within Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer. A powerful tool in establishing balanced and sustainable aquifer management, the Incentivized Managed Aquifer Recharge program could have beneficial application in suitable water basins throughout the West.

Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) may be defined as processes designed to move water from land surface to aquifer storage. MAR has been conducted in various locations throughout the world since ancient times. Modern MAR efforts in the western United States have been frequently documented in The Water Report (see Recharge References below). Virtually all of these efforts, however, have been undertaken by or through a governmental entity (state or municipal), or by a private entity at a local scale involving one or just a few wells. The State of Arizona created a basin-wide opportunity for crediting recharge water but this system applies only in Arizona. While localized efforts in other basins have been implemented, to date they do not provide cost-effective incentivized solutions at a basin scale.

The Recharge Development Corporation (RDC) is an Idaho corporation created for the purpose of developing infrastructure, processes, and strategies that will facilitate water retention projects to benefit residents and water users in the State of Idaho.

RDC is helping incentivize Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer entities to be involved in MAR through the application of Incentivized Managed Aquifer Recharge (patent-pending). …

Click here to read more and download article at the Water Wired blog.

Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge

From Water Deeply:

Researchers at the University of California recently highlighted a flaw in state law that may prohibit diverting streamflow to recharge groundwater. The problem is that groundwater recharge by itself is not considered a “beneficial use” under state law, and meeting that definition is a requirement to obtain a permit to divert water.

Officials at the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees water rights, say the reality is not so clear-cut. In fact, existing rules allow most groundwater recharge projects to obtain a water right. It’s just that they may not be awarded that right for the act of recharge by itself. The applicant would have to specifically target some ancillary benefit of recharge, such as salinity control in an aquifer or reversing land subsidence caused by overpumping groundwater. … ”

Read more from Water Deeply here:  Why California law requires a clear benefit for groundwater recharge

Acampo vineyard flooded in experiment to recharge aquifer

From the Stockton Record:

 “The setting was a 14-acre grape vineyard, but the mismatched background noise was that of a babbling brook.  The roots of some of the old-vine Zinfandel plants were submerged in foot-deep water pumped in from the Mokelumne River, a half-mile away. Other old-vine Zinfandel plants were bone dry.

A science experiment being conducted by the nonprofit Sustainable Conservation is taking place on land owned by 81-year-old farmer Al Costa, an enthusiastic participant. … ”

Read more from the Stockton Record here:  Acampo vineyard flooded in experiment to recharge aquifer

The stormwater opportunity

From the Pacific Institute:

“Navigating around puddles that form on streets and in parking lots after a rainstorm can be a nuisance. But this water, technically known as stormwater, has the potential to become an important water supply for many Californian communities. For example, one study showed enough potential supply from stormwater in major urban and suburban centers in California to annually provide millions of gallons for the recharge of local aquifers.

In addition to providing valuable water supply, effective stormwater management can help reduce local flooding and prevent trash and other pollution from getting into streams or the ocean. What’s more, many stormwater capture projects have further co-benefits, such as providing habitat, reducing urban temperatures, reducing energy use, creating community recreation spaces, and increasing property values.  … ”

Read more from the Pacific Institute here:  The stormwater opportunity

Streamflow availability ratings identify surface water sources for groundwater recharge in the Central Valley

From California Agriculture:

“In California’s semi-arid climate, replenishment of groundwater aquifers relies on precipitation and runoff during the winter season. However, climate projections suggest more frequent droughts and fewer years with above-normal precipitation, which may increase demand on groundwater resources and the need to recharge groundwater basins. Using historical daily streamflow data, we developed a spatial index and rating system of high-magnitude streamflow availability for groundwater recharge, STARR, in the Central Valley.

We found that watersheds with excellent and good availability of excess surface water are primarily in the Sacramento River Basin and northern San Joaquin Valley. STARR is available as a web tool and can guide water managers on where and when excess surface water is available and, with other web tools, help sustainable groundwater agencies develop plans to balance water demand and aquifer recharge. However, infrastructure is needed to transport the water, and also changes to the current legal restrictions on use of such water. … “

Continue reading from California Agriculture here:  Streamflow availability ratings identify surface water sources for groundwater recharge in the Central Valley

Is Groundwater Recharge a ‘Beneficial Use’? California Law Says No.

From Water Deeply:

Groundwater depletion is a big problem in parts of California. But it is not the only groundwater problem. The state also has many areas of polluted groundwater, and some places where groundwater overdraft has caused the land to subside, damaging roads, canals and other infrastructure. Near the coast, heavy groundwater pumping has caused contamination by pulling seawater underground from the ocean.

But if you wanted to obtain a permit from the state to manage these problems by recharging groundwater, you could be out of luck. … “

Read more from Water Deeply here:  Is Groundwater Recharge a ‘Beneficial Use’? California Law Says No.