Groundwater can provide emergency supply when reservoirs, pipelines, or streams are compromised. That’s why communities are increasingly looking to groundwater as an option in planning for resiliency to natural disasters, drought, and climate change.

A more affordable alternative to developing major surface water supplies and reservoirs, groundwater can serve as a backup in the event of a disruption to normal water service. And because it can be developed incrementally—one well at a time—a groundwater supply can be easily scaled to meet a community’s needs without major upfront investments in infrastructure or property.

Here are some examples of how groundwater can be used to build water system resiliency:

  • Small, distributed emergency well sources throughout a community can provide a critical source of water should pipeline infrastructure or treatment plants become inoperable after an earthquake, tsunami, or flood. Groundwater wells are typically serviceable after a major earthquake, especially when designed to act as a critical facility. Wells installed above a 100-year-flood mark with a sealed well casing are built to withstand a major flood.
  • A backup wellfield can be put into use when surface water has quality issues, such as turbidity, cryptosporidium, cyanotoxins, or E. coli. Climate change is anticipated to exacerbate these issues, with warmer temperatures enabling toxic algae blooms to flourish, and longer and more severe wildfire seasons causing turbidity in compromised watersheds.
  • An aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) well can store excessive winter precipitation in the aquifer for use during drought conditions in the summertime. ASR systems can also be used to bank water for use during emergency situations, as they have a greater chance of surviving a major earthquake, storm surge, or tsunami than an aboveground reservoir or water tower.

GSI works with our clients to develop cost-effective groundwater sources and ASR programs that complement surface water systems and provide supply redundancy—from the planning stages through implementation and ongoing operational maintenance.