September 9, 2022
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $2 million in research funding to the University of California, Berkeley to develop a cost-benefit tool to support enhanced aquifer recharge (EAR) as a viable, safe, and cost-effective water management strategy. EAR is the practice of using excess surface water to intentionally replenish and supplement existing groundwater supplies for storage and potential reuse.
“This research plays a vital role in helping ensure access to clean water in our communities, particularly as we adapt to the challenges of climate change,” said EPA Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This analysis will advance EPA’s clean water initiatives, resulting in improvements to public health and our environment.”
“The goal of this effort will be to lower barriers to widespread adoption of recharge at a national scale. Our interdisciplinary team is thrilled about the opportunity to work towards greater adoption of recharge as an element of water security,” said Michael Kiparsky, Water Program Director at the Center for Law, Energy & the Environment at UC Berkeley School of Law. “Our approach exemplifies our commitment to facilitating on-the-ground impact and implementation, and builds directly on the experience or our team, and on engagement with experts and stakeholders around the country.”
Using too much groundwater can lead to many issues that impact water quality and water availability. In many locations, EAR can be a cost-effective way to increase water resource resiliency to mitigate the impacts of drought exacerbated by climate change and can also provide ways to combat saltwater intrusion near coastal communities, among other benefits. However, groundwater removal is outpacing the rate of EAR implementation, and additional research is needed to address economic, technological, and other factors that affect the ability to implement EAR projects.
With this Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research grant, investigators at the University of California, Berkeley will conduct research using a life-cycle view of EAR which includes three pillars of decision making for EAR implementation: geochemical and physical considerations; legal and institutional considerations; and cost-benefit analysis and life-cycle assessment. The project will culminate in the creation of an EAR Lifecycle Map that can be used by water managers and other decision-makers to assess the costs and benefits of implementing their EAR projects.
Learn more about the STAR recipient.
Learn more about EPA research grants.
Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.