News Feature | January 18, 2017

As California Is Flooded With Rain, Managers Look To Capture It

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Water managers say underground water storage is vital as California and other drought-plagued areas seek to capitalize on rain when it comes.

"This is going to be the future for California," said farmer Don Cameron, the general manager of Terranova Ranch, per NPR. "If we don't store the water during flood periods, we're not going to make it through the droughts."

Cameron is not alone in touting the benefits of underground water storage. “These days, [his] unconventional idea has become a hot new trend in California's water management circles — especially [lately], with rivers flooding all over the state,” the report said.

This is the gist of the approach, according to a Stanford University policy project titled Water in the West: “Augmenting water supply through recharge into aquifers presents a cost-effective way of increasing the availability of groundwater for the inevitable dry times ahead.”

Project researchers reported:

New research by Water in the West shows that groundwater recharge is a cheaper alternative to surface storage. In fact, researchers found that the cost of recharge is cheaper than many other water supply options at $90 to $1,100 per acre-foot, or at a median cost of $390 per acre-foot, which broadly agrees with published values.

Underground storage is a major discussion point in California this month due to wet weather. “Up in Northern California, winter 2016-17 has been one of the wettest on record. At Mammoth Mountain, the seasonal snowfall has already hit 248 inches, over half of the seasonal average, and we're not even done with January,” LAist reported.

Texas may also benefit from underground water storage. Lyle Larson, a Republican state lawmaker from San Antonio, argues that building the capacity for more underground water storage would help his state, which faces recurring water-scarcity challenges.

Larson has pushed to “build a network of underground reservoirs to capture excess water as it rushes down Texas rivers, instead of allowing it to flow into the Gulf of Mexico. Eventually, Larson hopes, the reservoirs would be able to hold enough water to get Texas through a seven-year drought,” the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.

For similar stories visit Water Online Water Scarcity Solutions Center.