Spaceship-sized detection system could help determine future of CA water supply, where to store itFelicia Marcus, a visiting fellow at the Woods...Spaceship-sized detection system could help determine future of CA water supply, where to store it
Felicia Marcus, a visiting fellow at the Woods Institute, sees the potential for an historic opportunity.
"Our groundwater basins are a gift. They're bigger than any above ground reservoir capacity," says Marcus.
While they're not visible like our above ground reservoirs, some studies estimate the state's groundwater basins can hold many times as much water when they're replenished. And with climate change, and extended droughts threatening to disrupt California's normal snowpack and river melt cycle, some believe they could be critical for capturing and keeping the water we do get. In fact, identifying and potentially maximizing the capacity of California's groundwater system is part of an aggressive statewide effort. Recent flights over the North Bay this past November are just the latest example.
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Katherine Dlubac, Ph.D., directs the aerial survey program for the California Department of Water Resources. She says the data can help accelerate projects designed to recharge groundwater basins. Using technologies like direct underground pumping or creating saturation ponds.
"And so we can choose locations on the surface, where we know the top is connected to the aquifer. And we can sight our recharge pond there so that we can know and be sure that we're getting the groundwater into the aquifer where we want it to be," explains Dlubac.
While recharge efforts have been going on for years, experts say there's new momentum building since the passage of the of Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014. The focus is on emerging strategies, like diverting floodwaters to farms or orchards, where the underground conditions are right for saturation -- Or, connecting dams and reservoirs to underground systems, to capture water from a heavy runoff that might otherwise need to be released.