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Roseville preparing for drought with unique system to capture water for future use

Aquifer Storage and Recovery uses the underground aquifer like a bank account, adding water when it's plentiful for use when it's scarce

ROSEVILLE, Calif. — Water is the lifeblood of the Sacramento Valley. Yet, the best methods for storing and using the precious resource are often elusive. A new water system in operation in Roseville treats underground aquifers like a bank, making deposits in times of surplus for withdrawal in times of drought.

"If we have a dry condition, we can turn on our wells system to help supplement our water supply in those drier conditions," explained Water Utility Manager Sean Bigley. "And on the flip side, when we have wetter years, we can rely on surface water when it's more ample and more available for sure."

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It's called an Aquifer Storage and Recovery System or ASR. It uses a series of pumps, wells and monitoring stations to both withdraw water from the ground and refill aquifers when excess water is available. Other municipalities can only pump water out.

According to hydrogeologist Trevor Joseph, the system is unique in the region. 

"Roseville is really the only municipality that I'm aware of that's making aquifer storage and recovery work at a full-scale basis in Northern California," said Joseph.

"The concept's really called conjunctive use," explained Bigley. "So, when you have drier drought conditions, Folsom Reservoir might not have as much surface water coming through, so really it provides us an opportunity to switch our water sources."

Credit: KXTV

Now, the Folsom Reservoir does have a surplus, so Roseville has been purchasing the excess water and injecting it deep below the ground using the ASR wells.

Over the past several months, the city has recharged the aquifer with more than  950 acre-feet of water from Folsom Lake. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre with a foot of water. Bigley said that's enough water to supply 1,900 homes with water for a year.

In this way, the system uses the aquifer like another reservoir. Bigley said the recent past is a good teacher.

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"Certainly the last drought really kind of crystallized why it's so important we make these types of investments and we plan ahead," explained Bigley. "It's a continuous effort. We don't just wait for another drought to come around. We're constantly working on preparing for the future."

And Bigley said it is critical that Roseville gets ready now.

"If you think about Roseville, we're a regional job center," said Bigley. "We have a pretty significant economy in and of ourselves within western Placer County, but it also contributes to the Greater Sacramento Region as well. Water supply reliability is bedrock. If you don't have a reliable water supply, you don't have a real reliable economy. So the investments we're making here are extremely important with respect to the economy."

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