Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2007CA195G

Improving aquifer storage recovery operation to reduce nutrient load and benefit water supply

Institute: California
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2007 Start Date: 2008-07-01 End Date: 2012-06-30
Total Federal Funds: $242,508 Total Non-Federal Funds: $311,431

Principal Investigators: Andrew Fisher, Marc Los Huertos, Charles Wheat

Abstract: We propose a project that will develop tools and methods, applicable in many settings, to help manage aquifer storage recovery (ASR) systems so as to simultaneously benefit both water supply and water quality objectives. Enhancements to water supply will help to reduce ground water overdraft, contributing to reductions in the extent of subsidence, seawater intrusion, upflow of lower-quality water from depth, loss from critical surface reservoirs (including streams, lakes, and wetlands), and associated damage to fragile and valuable ecosystems. ASR systems can be run as part of a regional conjunctive use strategy, generating significant benefits to water managers, regulators, stakeholders, and aquatic ecosystems by shifting resource use patterns on the basis of (often unpredictable) availability; this characteristic will become increasingly important in coming decades as climate changes force modification of resource availability and use patterns. Most studies of ASR systems to date have focused on physical aspects of their operation, particularly causes and impacts of clogging. In contrast, our work will focus on quantitative reduction to nitrate loads during ASR operation. Improvements to water quality during ASR operations have been documented in a few cases, but no other studies have combined evaluation of ASR operation with quantitative reductions in nitrate load. We propose to complete this work as part of the Harkins Slough ASR project, developed and operated by a local water agency to reduce overdraft and its impacts. The project design includes extraordinarily strong control on system mass balance (water, solutes), will apply novel technologies and techniques, and provides unique opportunities to link water supply and water quality objectives, and to quantify relations between processes, properties, and ASR operations. The project comprises a newly-developed collaboration between USGS and non-USGS researchers, regional and local agencies and stakeholders, will support graduate and undergraduate student researchers (helping to training the next generation of water resource specialists), and leverage considerable non-federal project dollars.