Water Providers Receive $10.3 Million in Grants to Boost Groundwater Banking, Resiliency to Drought

By March 27, 2022Uncategorized

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced the award of over $10.3 million in grant funding for two Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) groundwater wells that allow water providers to add treated water into the groundwater aquifer during wet times, store that water underground for weeks, months or even years, and extract it during dry times.

$4 million was awarded to Carmichael Water District for an ASR well via an application submitted through the Regional Water Authority, which represents 20 water providers serving 2 million people in the Sacramento region. In addition, RWA member the City of Yuba City was successful in its application for $6.3 million for an ASR well.

“Every amount of state investment accelerates the Sacramento region’s comprehensive plan to build a more drought- and climate-resilient water system through the Sacramento Regional Water Bank by expanding our ability to store—or bank—water in the underground aquifer during wet times to be used during dry times,” said RWA Executive Director Jim Peifer, noting that the Sacramento region’s groundwater aquifer has the ability to store twice the volume of Folsom Reservoir.

Peifer explained that rather than one big project, the Water Bank is a network of groundwater wells, pumps and pipelines connecting water providers into an integrated regional system.

“ASR wells are a vital part of the water banking network of projects, and we are pleased that DWR recognized these as critical tools that deserve funding,” said Peifer said. “The ASR well in Carmichael is also important to preserving the Lower American River environment by reducing the region’s reliance on the river for drinking water supplies.”

Aquifer Storage and Recovery wells allow water providers to bank treated water into the groundwater aquifer to withdraw at a later date. The City of Roseville in 2019, for example, stored 944 acre-feet of water in the groundwater basin, enough water to serve 2,360 families for a year. Roseville then extracted and delivered this water to customers during summer of 2021. In January 2022, Roseville treated and banked over 260 acre-feet of flood water from Folsom Lake into the groundwater basin using the city’s ASR wells.

One ASR well has the potential to add up to 2,000 acre-feet of water into the groundwater basin per year, enough to serve 4,000 families. Each well guarantees reliability through the life of that well, which typically is 50-plus years.

The $10.3 million grant announcement is in addition to over $14 million in state grants awarded to Sacramento-area projects in December 2021 during Phase 1 of DWR’s grant process. Funding included $4 million for planning for the Sacramento Regional Water Bank, and groundwater wells for the Fair Oaks Water District and Orange Vale Water Company. In addition, the El Dorado Irrigation District was successful in its application for $10 million to construct an intertie between drinking water sources to increase system reliability in response to major impacts to its infrastructure by the Caldor Fire.

A full list of the awarded projects can be viewed here.

A news release from DWR is available here.

Authorized by the Budget Act of 2021, the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program was allotted $300 million to assist communities facing the loss or contamination of their water supplies due to drought, help address immediate drought impacts on human health and safety, and protect fish and wildlife resources.