Helping GSAs to Identify Optimal Groundwater Replenishment Options

Jan 11, 2017 (Last modified Jan 27, 2017)
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A Groundwater Recharge Assessment Tool (GRAT) to support planning for cost-effective aquifer recharge

Project Summary

Long-term groundwater overdraft and five years of drought in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) are threatening the reliability of drinking water for local communities and irrigation water for crop production. Additionally, the California Sustainable Groundwater Management Act requires newly forming Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) to develop plans by 2020 to manage groundwater supplies to ensure long term sustainable yields and avoid undesirable results. There is growing interest, across many stakeholders, to move groundwater basins toward balance through acceleration of recharge when recharge water is available. However, there is a lack of easily accessible information about the optimal locations and methods to capture available flows for groundwater replenishment.

This demonstration project will provide irrigation districts and GSAs with a decision support tool that will enable them to create and assess recharge scenarios for inclusion in their Groundwater Sustainability Plans. The tool will allow water managers to evaluate where (using fallow land, active cropland, and dedicated recharge basins) and when to optimally capture available flood flows at the lowest cost without creating unintended environmental and social impacts in their basins.

An on-farm groundwater recharge being done by Don Cameron, Terranova Ranch, 2011. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Conservation.Together, Sustainable Conservation and Earth Genome, the demonstration project team, envision making geospatial/temporal natural resource planning data more readily available to all natural resource and water managers in the SJV so that water management alternatives can be more easily identified, compared, and prioritized. This demonstration project is working in partnership with Madera Irrigation District and Tulare Irrigation District to create version 1 of the tool.

Status of Project

We are building out GRAT v1 for release to our partner Irrigation Districts in April 2017. Once released, we aim to extend GRAT functionality to other areas and partners in 2017.

Contact Information

Daniel Mountjoy, Director of Resource Stewardship, Sustainable Conservation, and Glen Low, Co-founder, Earth Genome,

A dedicated recharge basin in Tulare County, 2016. Photo courtesy of Sustainable Conservation.

Conservation Biology Institute. 2017. Helping GSAs to Identify Optimal Groundwater Replenishment Options. In: Data Basin. [First published in Data Basin on Jan 11, 2017; Last Modified on Jan 27, 2017; Retrieved on Oct 24, 2021] <>

About the Author

Conservation Biology Institute

The Conservation Biology Institute (CBI) provides scientific expertise to support the conservation and recovery of biological diversity in its natural state through applied research, education, planning, and community service.