Determining initial viability of local scale managed aquifer recharge projects in alluvial deposition systems
Critical groundwater overdraft is one of the greatest water issues of our time. In California, decades of overdraft have resulted in the passage of the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires critically overdrafted groundwater basins to create groundwater sustainability plans for future groundwater management. Many managers are using managed aquifer recharge (MAR) in their overall sustainability portfolio, in an attempt to balance groundwater use. Soil maps have been used in the past to determine viability of managed aquifer recharge sites. However, soil maps do not account for the high permeability pathways that exist in the subsurface, which have the potential to provide high efficiency recharge to the water table. This paper emphasizes the utility of creating data dense fine resolution geostatistical models and generating many realizations of the subsurface, which can then be used for analysis to understand the variability in recharge potential for specific recharge sites. These geostatistical realizations were investigated using connectivity metrics to evaluate the spread of highly conductive pathways throughout the subsurface. Connectivity analyses of high conductivity pathways show confidence that the study site- three vineyards located in the floodplain between the Cosumnes River and Deer Creek in Elk Grove, CA - has the potential to provide efficient recharge to the water table. These connectivity analyses can be completed prior to running computationally expensive and time intensive groundwater models and can be used as a way to understand variance between realizations of these geostatistical models.
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