Groundwater Recharge Focus of $1 Million EPA Research Initiative
Grant to Fund Research on Impact of Drought on Water Quality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is granting $1 million to the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) to conduct research on the effects of drought and extreme weather on the state’s water resources, including aquifers. The study will examine the conditions that contribute to the current drought, looking at the effect decreased water supply and unpredictable water quality have on agriculture, the environment, and the hydropower sector in both urban and rural settings.
“We’re already seeing the harmful effects of droughts and extreme weather on the environment and economy," says Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "Our goal in investing in this research is to gain innovative solutions that reduce the risks associated with inadequate drought preparedness.”
EPA Region 9 is working with all levels of government, tribes, and NGOs to improve sustainable water management in response to the ongoing drought. This includes identifying tools to build long-term resiliency to future water supply shortfalls. Key actions are assisting water utilities to identify and address losses from in their water distribution systems, advancing innovation in wastewater recycling, promoting storm water capture for non-potable use and to replenish groundwater, and working with industry and consumers to conserve water through efficient fixtures and practices.
The increased demand on water resources, climate change, population growth and aging water infrastructure systems pose substantial threats to water quality and public health, which are intensified during a drought. The grant will examine previous response to drought conditions at the federal, state and local level to determine the most effective and sustainable management system. PPIC will also study climate adaptation strategies and develop drought simulations on the outcome of statewide “dry runs” to test the success of a particular approach.
“EPA’s support will enable us to build on lessons from the current drought that can make California and other western states more resilient in a changing climate,” says Ellen Hanak, director of PPIC’s Water Policy Center.
To conduct the work, PPIC has assembled an interdisciplinary team including experts from the University of California, Davis and several other leading California universities. The study will also have an extensive engagement program involving workshops aimed at providing results to policymakers and water quality experts.
For more information about PPIC, visit www.ppic.org/main/home.asp.