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Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Dec 2;48(23):13601-9. doi: 10.1021/es501115c. Epub 2014 Nov 13.

Implications of using on-farm flood flow capture to recharge groundwater and mitigate flood risks along the Kings River, CA.

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Bachand & Associates, 509D Fourth Street, Davis, California 94549, United States.


The agriculturally productive San Joaquin Valley faces two severe hydrologic issues: persistent groundwater overdraft and flooding risks. Capturing flood flows for groundwater recharge could help address both of these issues, yet flood flow frequency, duration, and magnitude vary greatly as upstream reservoir releases are affected by snowpack, precipitation type, reservoir volume, and flood risks. This variability makes dedicated, engineered recharge approaches expensive. Our work evaluates leveraging private farmlands in the Kings River Basin to capture flood flows for direct and in lieu recharge, calculates on-farm infiltration rates, assesses logistics, and considers potential water quality issues. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil series suggested that a cementing layer would hinder recharge. The standard practice of deep ripping fractured the layer, resulting in infiltration rates averaging 2.5 in d(-1) (6 cm d(-1)) throughout the farm. Based on these rates 10 acres are needed to infiltrate 1 cfs (100 m(3) h(-1)) of flood flows. Our conceptual model predicts that salinity and nitrate pulses flush initially to the groundwater but that groundwater quality improves in the long term due to pristine flood flows low in salts or nitrate. Flood flow capture, when integrated with irrigation, is more cost-effective than groundwater pumping.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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