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Rainfall to Groundwater

Serve all who depend on water by hastening understanding, planning and collaborative action to restore degraded watershed detention functions.

Detention functions?  See Retention vs Detention Storage


Where are these degraded watersheds?


Surely everywhere humans have worked the land.  But certain landscapes stand out in their degraded state.


We begin with California as case study and work outward from here, because California is what we know here, though we are certain global applications abound. 


This approach was initially conceived as a means to augment cold baseflows and habitat connectivity required by inland California Central Coast steelhead. It is equally applicable to salmonid populations who move through the San Francisco Bay Delta. The benefits will extend throughout formerly degraded catchments, supporting such species as California tiger salamander, western spadefoot and other vernal pool plant and animal species.


Rainfall to Groundwater highlights opportunities to greatly expand groundwater recharge by capturing more rain right where it falls – before it becomes runoff and flooding.  


That is, by restoring the natural, biogenic watershed/ catchment “sponge” where infiltration and percolation  – detention functions – have been degraded through historic and prehistoric human land uses.  Upstream of dams wrought by historical infrastructure, but especially upstream of inland California groundwater basins.  And that will surely benefit humans, along with all other catchment denizens.


We’re especially talking watershed uplands here – largely ignored over the past seven decades with respect to water quantity issues, despite that they are known fundamental to water quality.  See Alternate Paradigms and especially Stream Networks vs Watersheds/ Catchments


The timing would seem right in that ​Groundwater Sustainability Agencies formed to address California’s over-drafted groundwater basins are currently responding to the requirements set forth by the 2014 Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to develop and implement Groundwater Sustainability Plans.


To date, however, those agencies have been too busy just integrating the directives to contemplate potential recharge approaches beyond the tired engineered/ “plumbing” solutions that have prevailed for the past century-plus – often dressed up in new attire, but the same old approach of humans attempting to dominate the environment.  We encourage those agencies to 1.) learn about and acknowledge catchment functions to begin with (they currently look only to surface waters for recharge), 2.) learn about and acknowledge historical human impacts to catchment functions, and 3.) collaborate with Nature and other humans to restore those functions.


Complementary to the focus on uplands, we aim to help spread awareness that allowing for expanded, restored riparian zones, restored meadows and other natural floodplains, will also greatly enhance water capture, detention and corresponding groundwater storage, as well as thwarting seawater intrusion – a notion still counterintuitive to many who dwell on the loss of water transpired by such wetland plants a.ka. phreatophytes.  See Plants in an Ecohydrology Context.


Please peruse this Rainfall to Groundwater site to learn more and consider supporting this truly sustainable approach as we strive to convince the recalcitrant powers that be.

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