Can California’s floods help recharge depleted groundwater supplies?
The drenching storms that hit California in recent weeks represented a long-sought opportunity for Helen Dahlke, a groundwater hydrologist at the University of California, Davis. Dahlke has been studying ways to recharge the state’s severely depleted groundwater by diverting swollen rivers into orchards and fields and letting the water seep deep into aquifers. But carrying out such plans requires heavy precipitation—which had been scarce. This week, however, water managers began to turn theory into practice. In the Tulare Irrigation District, which supplies water to more than 200 farms south of Fresno, officials started diverting water from the San Joaquin River into 70 fields as well as specially constructed ponds.
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