Stormwater to Groundwater: How California can increase groundwater storage and build climate resilience.
Date of Graduation
Project/Capstone - Global access
Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)
College of Arts and Sciences
Stephanie A Siehr
California is predicted to have more intense and frequent changes in weather patterns within the next 50 years. Historical and current groundwater use for residential and agricultural use is unsustainable and is creating significant deficits in groundwater aquifers throughout the state. To better adapt to potential damages caused by atmospheric rivers, better stormwater management and capture could increase California’s Climate adaptability. This study is focused on the means and methods to capture stormwater and increase groundwater recharge. Nature-based infrastructure (NBI), or Green Infrastructure (GI), has been used in urban areas throughout the country to mitigate harmful stormwater effects by replicating the natural hydrological cycle for groundwater recharge. A GIS analysis revealed roughly 5,000 square milesof groundwater potential areas were identified for NBI implementation. Further adaptation of the GIS model could target critically low aquifers. Six NBI methods were identified as means to retain and filter stormwater for groundwater recharge. The noted NBI methods were also found to be a substantially cheaper alternative to standard stormwater management utilizing gray infrastructure. This study also found a varying degree of municipal data regarding NBI/GI. Of the 3 California cities analyzed, each city heavily invested in more expensive gray infrastructure projects over NBI/GI projects in FY22. The state of California would greatly benefit from adapting the model created for this project (or something similar) to better manage urban stormwater and recharge critically low groundwater aquifers. Doing so could considerably increase the state’s groundwater storage and sustain California’s water needs in dry/drought years.
Perales, Emily M., "Stormwater to Groundwater: How California can increase groundwater storage and build climate resilience." (2023). Master's Projects and Capstones. 1534.
Natural Resources and Conservation Commons, Natural Resources Management and Policy Commons, Other Environmental Sciences Commons, Sustainability Commons, Water Resource Management Commons