by Chuck Thibault
On Oct. 21, 2022, the Mississippi River reached a record low stage of -10.8 feet (173.2 feet NAVD88) at the Memphis Mississippi River Gage. While drought conditions leading to the low levels have eased, the record low stage highlights our dependence on precipitation and our vulnerability to drought. Additionally, when the low river level was visible, one could walk to the riverbank and see the low river levels.
Unlike the river, the groundwater beneath our feet is not visible, yet it is relied upon for drinking water, agriculture and industry. It becomes even more important in locations where surface water loss is the norm. Our current and future need for groundwater combined with population and climatic pressures requires an effort to ensure our groundwater resources remain resilient.
One method used to provide water supply resiliency is through managed aquifer recharge, sometimes referred to as water banking. MAR is defined by the National Groundwater Association as the purposeful recharge of water to aquifers for subsequent recovery or for environmental benefit. There are a variety of forms of MAR, such as large infiltration ponds, crop flooding and the use of wells. MAR is also utilized for drinking water storage, flood hazard mitigation and drought mitigation. Sources for recharge include river water, storm water and treated wastewater. Some things to consider prior to implementing MAR strategies include local, state and federal regulations, water chemistry, and the quality of the recharge source and the receiving aquifer.
In 2022, the National Groundwater Association and the International Association of Hydrogeologists increased their interest in MAR. Tioga is proud to be participating in the drafting of MAR guidance with the Interstate Technology and Regulatory Council.
To learn more, check out these sources or reach out to the Tioga team: