Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Environment: EPA Awards Grant to Los Angeles County for Research into Boosting Water Supplies and Improving Water Security


EPA Awards Grant to Los Angeles County for Research into Boosting Water Supplies and Improving Water Security

Department of Public Works to use award for studies aiming to advance groundwater availability and quality.

Media Contact: Michael Brogan, 415-295-9314,

SAN FRANCISCO (September 26, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $7,837,196 in funding to four institutions, including the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works, to research the use and risks of enhanced aquifer recharge (EAR) to improve groundwater availability and quality.

“Groundwater is an essential and increasingly scarce commodity in arid regions such as Southern California. Through this award, Los Angeles County will move forward with timely and innovative studies to help secure precious groundwater resources and protect water quality,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This research will help conserve and maximize the availability of groundwater into the future. We are proud to support efforts that help states, agencies, and communities become more water resilient."

“Capturing and conserving stormwater is an integral part of Los Angeles County’s strategy to ensure all residents have access to safe, clean, reliable water resources,” said Mark Pestrella, Director of Los Angeles County Public Works and the Chief Engineer of the Los Angeles County Flood Control District. “This grant from the EPA will allow LA County Public Works to continue its exploration of sustainable stormwater capture in the face of climate change—one of the most critical challenges we face as a region.”

Enhanced Aquifer Recharge (EAR), often interchangeably referred to as artificial recharge or aquifer storage, has tremendous potential as a process to augment water supplies, replenish groundwater, and restore streamflow in the face of increasing populations, urban development, and climate change. EAR can be accomplished using surface water or treated wastewater. While EAR implementation and management has been an active topic of research for many years, significant knowledge gaps remain. This research will help address some of these gaps related to best practices in design, location, performance, maintenance, and monitoring of EAR in different land use and hydrogeologic settings.

“As climate change and increasing demand diminish the availability of groundwater, identifying innovative solutions for EAR is an important step in protecting our water resources,” said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “This research will provide the knowledge needed to help improve water supplies for communities experiencing increased intensity, frequency, and duration of drought and extreme heat.”

With the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) research funding from the EPA announced this week, investigators will assist communities throughout the United States in evaluating whether and how to invest in safe and sustainable EAR strategies for many goals including enhancing water supplies, protecting water quality, maintaining aquatic ecosystems, reducing sinking land and avoiding sea water intrusion. This research will enable state, Tribal, and local water quality managers to adopt safe EAR practices while understanding the risks, benefits, and consequences from using different source waters and given differing subsurface geology and groundwater end use.

The following institutions are receiving awards: 

  • Los Angeles County Public Works, Alhambra, Calif., to explore the long-term, regional potential for groundwater recharge through urban best management practices and develop a free and open-source user-friendly tool for evaluation of performance of EAR practices.
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Okla., to test the effectiveness and impacts of rural EAR structures and determine if they can be deployed for rural land management strategies to safely increase groundwater supplies.
  • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pa., to increase EAR adoption by better understanding the potential mobilization of contaminants and their risks to water quality in key aquifer systems across the U.S.
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Blacksburg, Va., to develop a web-based decision support tool to guide communities, agencies, and practitioners to design safe and sustainable implementation of EAR in the U.S. Coastal Plain and in regions with similar hydrogeology.

Learn more about these grant awards.

Learn more about EPA research grants.

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