Groundwater recharge in desert cities

groundwater recharge

The City of Mesa teamed up with Arizona State University’s Decision Center for a Desert City to provide two ASU undergraduate student interns with the opportunity to assist in developing water management strategies for the East Salt River Basin.

The water advisor of the City of Mesa was the community partner on this project. Under his supervision, Joshua Randall and Emily Allen assessed the potential for a multicity collaboration for groundwater recharge. The project was split into an environmental-technical and a social-political module. Joshua identified criteria to determine prime recharge sites and developed a geographical information system (GIS) to identify the best geographic locations for recharge. Emily interviewed water managers from affected cities to assess their interest in collaborating in a potential multicity groundwater recharge project. Throughout the process, the interns worked closely with the community partner and participated in an internship course to meet high quality practical and academic standards.

The two interns jointly compiled an interdisciplinary report outlining the details for the feasibility of the potential groundwater recharge project. To date, no GIS-based, sub-basin wide study on suitable recharge areas had been carried out for this region. Furthermore, the report currently serves as a basis for the cities to discuss a collaborative approach to groundwater recharge. Collaborative efforts will minimize cost and maximize groundwater resource efficiencies.

One next step could be to develop a 3D groundwater model to represent subsurface criteria, e.g., infiltration rate, and mechanisms for collaboration among water providers.