Communities can extend their limited water resources with a well-managed water recycling and reuse program and managed aquifer recharge (MAR) for conjunctive management of surface water, groundwater, and recycled water resources.
Water can be recycled by reusing treated wastewater for beneficial uses such as landscape irrigation, industrial processes, and replenishing a groundwater basin (groundwater recharge). With adequate treatment, water can sometimes be reused for human consumption—either directly or by blending with another supply source. Using reclaimed water has other benefits besides augmenting a water supply. Decreased wastewater discharges may reduce waste loads to receiving waters. Reclaimed water has also been used to enhance wetlands and riparian habitats.
DBS&A is familiar with various state recycled water policies and offers proven strategies and the resources necessary to successfully overcome regulatory obstacles. We work with our clients, regulators, potential water users, and other stakeholders to ensure maximum reuse of the water.
Managed aquifer recharge (MAR), also known as aquifer storage and recovery (ASR), allows water managers to store excess supplies available only seasonally for use during peak periods of demand. Water is recharged to the aquifer system and recovered at a later date. Because MAR relies on water storage in the subsurface, communities save water that would be lost to evaporation if stored in a reservoir. Based on our expertise in vadose zone processes, DBS&A has become a national leader in design and implementation of MAR systems using surface infiltration and direct injection recharge methods.
Some of our recent work includes:
Direct Injection Aquifer Recharge Facility: DBS&A is using reclaimed wastewater—a reliable, drought-proof water source that can be tailored to meet the needs of specific end uses ranging from irrigation to indirect potable use—for the City of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. When the demand for reuse water is low, the purified water source can be stored in surface reservoirs or subsurface aquifers. Aquifer storage offers the advantage of nearly infinite capacity, preservation of the quality of the purified water source, and elimination of water losses associated with evaporation from open surface reservoirs.
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (Water Authority) is implementing managed aquifer recharge (MAR) projects for conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater resources using imported water diverted from the Rio Grande (San Juan-Chama Project). The purpose is to recharge the Santa Fe Group aquifer system of the Middle Rio Grande Basin, establishing a long-term drought reserve. The Water Authority has two current MAR projects, discussed below:
Bear Canyon Aquifer Recharge:
The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s Bear Canyon Recharge project is the first full-scale permitted recharge project in the State of New Mexico. This project involves releasing bank-filtered surface water into an arroyo channel during winter months, allowing it to infiltrate through the 500-foot-thick vadose zone profile and recharging the Middle Rio Grande Basin Aquifer. The underground storage and recovery (USR) permit from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer (OSE) allows the Water Authority to recharge up to 3,000-acre-feet per year. DBS&A designed and implemented the demonstration project, including significant monitoring to demonstrate the effectiveness of the recharge methods. Due to the success of the demonstration project, the OSE established a storage account for the recharged water.
DWTP Large-Scale Recharge Demonstration: This project will involve recharging potable water using one aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) well and one vadose zone well at the Water Authority’s Drinking Water Treatment Plant (DWTP). The Water Authority has obtained the demonstration project permit, and demonstration project recharge well drilling, construction, and aquifer testing are complete. Depending on performance, up to nine additional vadose zone wells may be installed for the full-scale project, with a maximum recharge capacity of 5,000 acre-feet per year.
San Antonio Creek Spreading Grounds Rehabilitation Project: This project is intended to increase groundwater storage and recharge in the Ojai Valley Groundwater Basin by rebuilding abandoned diversion works, rehabilitating the spreading ground basins, and constructing aquifer recharge wells adjacent to San Antonio Creek in the Ojai Valley, California. DBS&A, in conjunction with other stakeholders, bore the idea of spreading grounds rehabilitation as a means of augmenting basin yield. DBS&A, under contract with the Ventura County Watershed Protection District, completed a full engineering design for diverting a portion of the precipitation typically lost downstream to rehabilitated spreading grounds and aquifer recharge wells. This will result in greater groundwater storage and production from local water supply wells and less reliance on limited surface water supplies. A depth-discrete monitoring well was installed near the spreading grounds to monitor the effectiveness of the recharge project.
Mariposa Water Reclamation Facility: This City of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, facility was permitted to recharge reclaimed wastewater through a two-acre infiltration gallery. Water movement through the 500-foot-thick vadose zone profile is monitored using heat-dissipation sensors, advanced tensiometers, suction lysimeters, neutron logging, and routine monitoring of groundwater levels. Water that reaches the aquifer will offset surface-water depletions caused by Rio Rancho groundwater pumping.
El Paso Water Utility and American Water Works Association Research Foundation: DBS&A performed pilot testing of different artificial recharge methods in northeast El Paso, Texas, to determine the best and most cost-effective means of recharging the Hueco Bolson aquifer with reclaimed wastewater. The primary objective was to determine if lower-cost infiltration basins or shallow vadose zone (dry) wells were feasible alternatives to groundwater recharge wells. The pilot recharge system was operated for approximately one year to evaluate the volume of water that each system could accept and to evaluate the effects of salt loading on the groundwater quality. The infiltration basin consistently allowed an average of 1 MGD to infiltrate over a 0.5-acre footprint. For a given volume of water, infiltration basins were determined to be more cost-effective than dry wells.
For more information on Managed Aquifer Recharge, including the experience of our affiliate, Clear Creek, click here.