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Sustainable Water Resource Exploration and Development: A Return to Local Supply

J. L. Sterling1 and J. L. Kear2
1Daniel B. Stephens & Associates, Inc., Petaluma, CA, [email protected]
2Daniel B. Stephens & Associates, Inc., Santa Barbara, CA, [email protected]

Over the past century, many wholesale purveyors have addressed water needs by expanding aqueduct systems to remote water sources. This practice is increasingly susceptible to regional droughts, environmental regulations, competing demands, and infrastructure problems. Conveyance of water from remote sources increases the ‘carbon footprint’ of water supplies, is subject to severance from the population in active tectonic areas, and can be less sustainable than local supplies. With increased consideration of issues such as sustainability, redundancy, susceptibility to natural and other disasters, and the ‘carbon footprint’ of water supplies, many water purveyors are turning toward local and previously discarded sources.

An example of this deliberate search for local groundwater resources is a recent addition to Signal Hill’s water supply. The Signal Hill water supply was previously separated from the service population by 7 mi and a major highway bridge. Local groundwater had not been recently considered a viable source as the city lies within the Long Beach Oil Field. A new well within city limits taps into this previously unused source and reduces the susceptibility to natural and other disasters.

Another example is Senior Canyon Mutual Water Company (SCMWC), whose water sources consist of local and imported water. Facing significant imported water rate increases and after a well was eliminated due to water quality issues, SCMWC is implementing improvements including a suite of local groundwater extraction wells, replacing lost local supplies, and reducing dependence on water importation.

Sonoma County’s plans for improving redundancy and minimizing the ‘carbon footprint’ of water are another example of renewed interest in local supplies. Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) delivers Russian River water to Sonoma and northern Marin counties via aqueducts throughout the service area. SCWA is looking to increase local groundwater supply, providing redundancy in water supply, and tying into SCWA’s goal of zero-carbon water.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90088©2009 Pacific Section Meeting, Ventura, California, May 3-5, 2009