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Roseville seizes opportunity of wet winter with groundwater banking

Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2019


By Sean Bigley, Acting Water Utility Manager, City of Roseville

Increasingly, water management in California is a balancing act where solutions must knit together the needs of people, industry, farming, species and the environment. Managing water to benefit these multiple uses is hard enough if water was a stationary resource – but it’s not. Especially during the winter months, water managers confront complex decisions about when and where water is released from reservoirs for winter flood protection, as well as environmental flows and supply needs throughout the year.

Success relies on the ability of water agencies to adapt to changing conditions and have an array of strategies for managing water for its maximum beneficial use – strategies that come from investments made years prior.

In Roseville, we recently had the opportunity to capture surplus water from Folsom Reservoir through our contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Central Valley Project. With massive amounts of snowpack and more storms in the forecast, Folsom operators were releasing vast sums of water from the reservoir to ensure sufficient flood control capacity.

Instead of allowing this water to spill out to the Pacific Ocean, at a time when river flows are already high, we took delivery of 65-acre feet of water from Folsom Reservoir to inject into the aquifer that lies beneath the city. We’ve been installing Aquifer Storage and Recovery infrastructure (“plumbing”) to do both groundwater injection and pumping for more than a decade, while carefully monitoring quantity and quality of water in its groundwater basin.

For Roseville, injecting Folsom Reservoir water into the groundwater basin provides multiple benefits:

  1. Capturing water that would have been unnecessarily spilled to the ocean

  2. Storage of wet-year water that can be tapped when the water is needed (like a water savings account)

  3. Water helps ensure the health of the groundwater basin – a high priority in California under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act

  4. Valuable information about the performance of injection sites and the city’s capacity to deposit larger quantities of water into the aquifer in the future

For our neighbors and other water users, the ability to manage water needs through all types of water years will help relieve pressure on overall water supply during future droughts.

In the Sacramento Valley – where rice fields and natural bypasses have provided flood control, habitat, species and water supply benefits for many years – we are accustomed to managing water for multiple beneficial uses. Our vision for and investment in diversifying water supply sources continues that tradition and helps put Roseville – and our region – on the leading edge of smart and sustainable water management in the future.

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