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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Davis, California » Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research » Research » Research Project #439515

Research Project: Managed Aquifer Recharge to Sustain Irrigated Agriculture

Location: Sustainable Agricultural Water Systems Research

Project Number: 2032-13220-002-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Dec 1, 2020
End Date: Nov 30, 2025

The overall objective of this research is to develop managed aquifer recharge (MAR) strategies to capture and recharge excess surface water supplies during storms into aquifers to sustain high quality groundwater supplies for irrigated agriculture and human consumption, and to mitigate flooding, groundwater depletion, and land subsidence.

Challenges to successful MAR operations include quantifying groundwater-surface water interactions, clogging of the infiltration surface, and contamination of recharge water. Research will therefore address ways to better quantify groundwater-surface water interactions, mitigate clogging, optimize treatment of source water to remove contaminants, and best management of MAR sites to ensure recharge water quality over a range of soil types and climatic conditions. Complementary studies will be conducted to better infer underlying mechanisms controlling MAR performance and to monitor water quality. A special focus of this research will be to develop a watershed scale model to simulate the coupling of water flow and contaminant transport in surface water, the vadose zone, and groundwater. Existing models for overland flow (KINEROS2 or an alternative MODFLOW packages dealing with this process), the vadose zone (HYDRUS-1D), and groundwater (MODFLOW) will be coupled in a computationally manner for this purpose. This combined model will subsequently be employed to study the implications of MAR on groundwater-surface water interactions, water quality, and vadose zone storage. A technical report will be prepared to document the developed model.