New Stanford-designed tool could guide floodwater management and combat ongoing drought

Floodwaters are not what most people consider a blessing. But they could help remedy California’s increasingly parched groundwater systems, according to a new Stanford-led study. The research, published in Science Advances, develops a framework to calculate future floodwater volumes under a changing climate and identifies areas where investments in California’s aging water infrastructure could amplify groundwater recharge. As the state grapples with more intense storms and droughts, stowing away floodwaters would not only reduce flood risks but also build more water reserves for drier times.

“This is the first comprehensive assessment of floodwater recharge potential in California under climate change,” said study lead author Xiaogang He, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering at the National University of Singapore who pursued the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Program on Water in the West.

Click here to read more at Stanford News.

Video: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

Drought has become an issue in California, and one way to help that are vineyards. California Ag Net explains how researchers are using farmland to recharge groundwater.”

Watch video segment from RFD TV here: Using vineyards to recharge California’s groundwater

For more on groundwater recharge, visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange by clicking here.

Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife

With the lack of rain this fall and winter, comes anxiety about California’s water future for people, wildlife, and agriculture in California’s Central Valley.

Our rainfall not only produces benefits at the surface like wildlife habitat and food crops, but it also recharges our stores of water below ground, otherwise known as groundwater aquifers. Even though we can’t see groundwater, and many of us don’t quite understand what it is, we all depend on it for the fresh water that we drink and use to grow our food. 

California is facing one of the largest resource challenges ever: how to recharge or refill a depleted water table in the Central Valley, a hugely important region for wildlife and agriculture. … ”

Read more from Point Blue here: Attractive and beneficial: Groundwater recharge basins can be both for people and wildlife

For more on groundwater recharge, visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange by clicking here.

Water right permitting options for groundwater recharge: Avoiding unintended consequences

“Efforts to boost groundwater recharge are critical to making California’s limited, and increasingly volatile, water resources go further. Recharge is playing a growing role in maintaining groundwater as an effective drought reserve and in slowing or reversing the effects of years of unsustainable groundwater pumping.

But implementing recharge projects is not easy. Water managers face a range of hurdles. Even with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) on the books, and the increasing availability of technical assistance, local decision makers are left mostly to their own ingenuity to figure out how to shore up groundwater resources to meet future needs.

Many Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) expect recharge to help them meet their responsibilities under SGMA. But the details of how they will implement recharge projects are often unclear. … “

Click here to continue reading this article at Legal Planet.

Location, location, location: New tool shows where groundwater recharge will maximize benefits

From the Environmental Defense Fund:

Recharging groundwater with rain and snowmelt is one strategy water managers are embracing to help balance groundwater supply and demand and comply with the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

Depending on the location, recharge can also deliver other valuable benefits, such as additional habitat for wildlife and a more resilient water supply for people.

With support from EDF, four UC Santa Barbara graduate students have developed a new mapping tool for California’s Central Valley to identify the best locations for groundwater recharge to secure these bonus benefits.

Click here to continue reading at Growing Returns.

Colusa County landowners sought for groundwater recharge program

From the Colusa Sun-Herald:

The Nature Conservancy, in partnership with the Colusa Groundwater Authority, is now accepting applications for an on-farm Multi-Benefit Groundwater Recharge Incentive Program scheduled to take place this fall.

According to a release issued by the Nature Conservancy, the program provides an opportunity for growers to receive financial compensation for recharging groundwater during the course of normal farming operations on a variety of crops while also providing critical wetland habitat for waterbirds migrating along the Pacific Flyway.

“The program requires short-term commitments from growers to irrigate and maintain shallow depths on enrolled fields and pays for field preparation, irrigation and water costs,” read the release.

Click here to read this article at the Colusa Sun-Herald.

NEW RESEARCH: Shrub encroachment on grasslands can increase groundwater recharge

From the University of California Riverside:

Grasslands across the globe, which support the majority of the world’s grazing animals, have been transitioning to shrublands in a process that scientists call “woody plant encroachment.”

Managed grazing of drylands is the most extensive form of land use on the planet, which has led to widespread efforts to reverse this trend and restore grass cover due to the belief that it results in less water entering streams and groundwater aquifers.

A new study led by Adam Schreiner-McGraw, a postdoctoral hydrology researcher at the University of California, Riverside, modeled shrub encroachment on a sloping landscape and reached a startling conclusion: Shrub encroachment on slopes can increase the amount of water that goes into groundwater storage. The effect of shrubs is so powerful that it even counterbalances the lower annual rainfall amounts expected during climate change.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Utilizing excess winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge

Kristin Sicke is the Assistant General Manager for Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, which manages water supplies for 200,000 acres in western Yolo County, which encompasses Woodland, Davis, and the surrounding area.  The District manages a small hydroelectric plant, two reservoirs, more than a 150 miles of canals and laterals, and three dams including the world’s longest inflatable rubber dam.  In this presentation from the 2019 Western Groundwater Congress, Ms. Sicke describes the District’s efforts to use winter stormwater flows for groundwater recharge in the Yolo subbasin.

Click here to read this article.

How water managers can build recharge basins to boost resilience for farmers and birds alike

Anna Schiller writes,

I wasn’t expecting to see egrets, herons and pelicans on my first trip to the San Joaquin Valley — a region in the southern part of California’s Central Valley known for its impressive agricultural production and scorching summer heat. I didn’t find these birds at one of the valley’s few wildlife refuges, but at a groundwater recharge facility designed to spread and infiltrate surface water into the ground below.

Recharge basins are becoming increasingly popular in overdrafted regions in California, where water managers are seeking solutions to balance groundwater supply and demand to comply with the state’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). …

Continue reading at the Environmental Defense Fund’s Growing Returns blog.

ACWA releases technical framework for increasing groundwater replenishment

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) has prepared A Technical Framework for Increasing Groundwater Replenishment in response to a growing need to promote groundwater replenishment activities as a strategy to maintain or improve groundwater levels statewide. This framework summarizes the tools and resources and provides a narrative framework and checklist for water managers to consider as they pursue groundwater recharge projects and activities.

Click here to download this document.

For more information on groundwater recharge,
Visit the groundwater recharge page at the Groundwater Exchange.