Sustainable Groundwater Management
Water is a precious resource in California and in many Western states, but it often hasn’t been managed as such. Impacts of overuse on surface water are easy to see, but groundwater, which occupies the spaces between pieces of rock and soil underground, is more easily overlooked. In 2014, California passed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, SGMA, which recognized the detrimental effects of withdrawing too much groundwater and set out a plan for local sustainable management of underground water sources, called aquifers. The research I contribute to aims to help groundwater managers implement SGMA by providing them with information about groundwater recharge projects already in place across the West. These recharge projects, which increase the amount of water returning to an aquifer, vary significantly in their scope, management, history, and physical and legal constraints. By analyzing each project, we can provide groundwater managers with different options so that they can decide which recharge actions, if any, are most appropriate for their aquifer. For the past year, I have worked on two recharge case studies, one in Kern County, California, and one in the Eastern Snake Plain of Idaho. This summer, I will be continuing to work on case studies as well as performing analysis to help bring them together in a cohesive way.