Coupling stormwater capture and managed aquifer recharge
Abstract:We are evaluating the use of stormwater runoff as a source for managed aquifer recharge (MAR), using data from an operational field site to address two questions: (1) How much stormwater can be captured and infiltrated with this system? (2) What is the impact of sediment delivered to the infiltration basin with the stormwater, and what maintenance would be required to sustain favorable infiltration conditions? Our field site is a working ranch in the Pajaro Valley, central coastal California, where runoff from ~48 ha (120 ac) is directed into a 1-ha (2.5 ac) infiltration basin. We instrumented the site for water years (WY) 2012, 2013, and 2014 to measure local precipitation, total inflow, and sediment accumulation. In WY14, we added a network of instruments that reports some of these data in real time.
WY12, WY13, and WY14 were dry, with total precipitation 50%, 70%, and 45% of the regional long-term average, respectively. In WY12, precipitation was spread over many storms, and total inflow was 5,600 m3 (4.5 ac-ft). A series of more intense storms in WY13 delivered 39,000 m3 (31 ac-ft) of total inflow. The driest year of our study so far, WY14, included the most intense rainfall we have recorded, and total inflow was 42,000 m3 (34 ac-ft). These results demonstrate that both precipitation amount and intensity influence how much stormwater runoff is generated. During a wetter year, we expect this system could collect at least 134,000 m2 (100 ac-ft) of runoff. Sediment accumulation in the infiltration basin in WY13 ranged from 0–8 cm, but in WY14 was no greater than 1 cm. As total inflow for these years was similar, sediment load of runoff captured during WY14 was much smaller than that of WY13. Grain size analyses demonstrate that fine material is preferentially delivered to the infiltration basin, while coarser material is removed during transport. These data will be linked to a regional model and used to develop additional stormwater-MAR projects in this area.