Rainfall to Groundwater Basics Course Description & Outline

This course presents the basic concepts and rationale behind Rainfall to Groundwater, summarizing a century worth of supporting science and integrating it into a whole systems approach to resolving this aspect of water resource problems.

The course is presented in an interdisciplinary style, with glossary, graphics and other support materials refined upon feedback through the Rainfall Detention Council online forum, especially as the course emerges.  

Online video learning modules, estimated at 30-40 minutes each, offer go-at-your-own-pace learning.  

The Rainfall Detention Council private online forum will host course-related questions  and discussions, including how to apply this knowledge to California Groundwater Sustainability Plans, as well as to similar efforts beyond California.

Ten monthly two-hour Rainfall Detention Council teleconference calls will invite live questions and comments.  These will be recorded for subsequent access.

The intention, upon emergence, is to organize at least three Rainfall to Groundwater field trips per year, to physically bring the course to the land.  Course participants will be eligible to attend field trips, although additional minor costs may be involved.

1.0 Review, expand on basic concepts from the  Rainfall to Groundwater site.
Retention vs detention storage
How restoring the “sponge” increases water available for recharge

2.0 20th Century paradigms concerning water
“Water yield”
Moving water off the land fast as possible

3.0 21st Century holism, systems approach
Figure-ground perception
Watersheds/ catchments vs stream systems                                                                                                                                                    • Surface waters vs whole system view                                                                                                                                                                      • Groundwater basins vs whole catchments

4.0 Baseflow as bottom-line                                                                                                                                                                                         • Streambank storage
Restore degraded watersheds aka *catchments” – the “sponge” that feeds the bottom line

5.0 Overview history of science & policy background – presented with the intent that understanding this history facilitates understanding the basic concepts

5.1 Land degradation, forests and water;  flows through bedrock (contrast with “water yield”)

5.2 Early 20th Century progressive conservation movement

5.3 Forests and water

5.4 Role of burrowing animals in soil formation  

5.5 Occurrence of groundwater; rocks as receptacles of water; flows through bedrock

5.6 Role of vegetation in erosion control & water conservation

5.7 Early insights into soil structure

5.8 The Influence of Robert E. Horton

5.9 Influence of Vegetation & Watershed Treatments on Run-off, Silting & Streamflow – USDA 1940

5.10 The soil profile as a natural reservoir 1

5.11 The soil profile as a natural reservoir 2

5.12 New York City’s water supply/ watershed

5.13 Horton vs foresters & soil conservationists

5.14 Plant-soil-water relations in watershed management 1

5.15 Plant-soil-water relations in watershed management 2

5.16 Application of plant-soil-water relations to watershed management

5.17 Post-WW II paradigm shift, reductionist removal of biotic structure influence on hydrology models • science within paradigm(s)

6.0 Tracking the science into the 21st Century

6.1 Deterministic era: Are we forgetting something?

6.2 Limited investigations during 1960s

6.3 Insights from watershed geomorphic models

6.4 Woody and perennial root structures, old root channels,  macropores

6.5 Macropores vs micropores – functions

6.6 Baseflow as indicator

6.7 Baseflow augmentation by streambank storage

6.8 Streambank storage facilitates steelhead migration, Carmel River;  impacted Cosumnes River baseflow & Chinook salmon

6.9 How deep is soil?

6.10 Selected lessons from San Dimas Experimental Forest 1

6.11 Selected lessons from San Dimas Experimental Forest 2

6.12 Soil ecohydrology essentials

6.13 Recent insights into soil water dynamics 1

6.14 Recent insights into soil water dynamics 2

6.15 Soil water storage under oaks vs. annuals on Mediterranean dehesas; blue oaks enhance California soil quality

6.16 Fractal approaches & the sponge analogy

6.17 Hydraulic redistribution by roots & the rhizosphere ecosystem

6.18 Hydrologic connectivity between landscapes & streams;  Summary of soil water dynamics

6.19 “Shrub encroachment” – In California?

6.20 Plants in an ecohydrology context

7.0 California rangelands

7.1 California’s most degraded open space land cover type – annual rangelands

7.2 Prehistoric anthropogenic influences on California rangelands

7.3 Historical changes  on California rangelands

7.4 Grazing on the public lands – praise for regulation from the President of the American National Live Stock Association 1908

7.5 Influence of woodland chaparral on water and soil in central California, late 1940s

7.6 California range land: an historico ecological study of the range resources of California • Burcham (1957)

7.7 Perspectives on anthropogenic vegetation change

7.8 Woody plant root systems,  shrub “encroachment”

7.9 Detention storage – potential increase with rangeland restoration and how it can sustain groundwater

7.10 Detention storage –  how it can reduce flooding and seawater intrusion

7.11 With new goals/ objectives for rangeland management, Criollo cattle offer a promising transition, new opportunities

7.12 Terroir & a vision of livestock appellations

8.0 Detention storage in riparian zones and natural floodplains, natural recharge

8.1 Restore riparian zones for their detention storage functions, including as bulwark against seawater intrusion

8.2 Compare functions and costs of natural floodplains vs engineered recharge basins

9.0 Paradigms & Possibilities

10.0 Biospheric feedbacks with local and regional climate

11.0 Planning for rainfall to groundwater 1 – watershed/catchment analysis – overview

12.0 Develop catchment restoration goals & objectives – overview

13.0 Planning for rainfall to groundwater 2 – envision & evaluate options – overview

14.0 Paradigm shift, evolving solutions, catchment consciousness for K-12

15..0 Pioneering playful exploration, connecting with Spirit of Place