A new program aims to address groundwater depletion in California through incentivizing Managed Aquifer Recharge. A study by UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkeley researchers, published in Nature Water, introduces Recharge Net Metering, or ReNeM. It functions like a reward system for individuals who allow groundwater recharge on their property. They get paid based on the amount of water their project adds back to the aquifer. This method aims to overcome challenges like the cost of land and variable infiltration conditions.
The case study in Pajaro Valley demonstrates how the program can be implemented successfully. The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency oversees the program, landowners facilitate projects, and a third-party certifier helps assess and monitor the projects. Over 25 years, the ReNeM program is expected to generate a substantial amount of water at a lower cost compared to other methods. The benefits are distributed between the agency managing groundwater, those hosting the projects, and the overall basin.
Program success depends on various factors like the amount of water infiltrated, the cost of water, and the duration of the projects. Adjusting certain factors can change who benefits more, making it adaptable to different situations. However, some of the challenges include dealing with the uncertainties of hydrological conditions. Overall, ReNeM appears to be a promising solution, as a flexible, incentive-based approach to addressing groundwater recharge.
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Ag News Director / AgNet West