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Large precipitation events critical in replenishing ground water: study

October 28, 2016  By Ground Water Canada

Reston, VA – Large precipitation events that occur about every 10 years are a critical source of recharge for replenishing ground water resources, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.

This is one of the first studies in the region to investigate the effects of climate on ground water resources, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) said in a news release. Scientists identified and analyzed large, multi-year, quasi-decadal ground water recharge events in the northern Utah portion of the Great Basin from 1960 to 2013. Researchers evaluated ground water levels and climate information and identified five large recharge events with a frequency of about 11 to 13 years. Findings show these events provide a significant amount of ground water recharge and storage across the northern Great Basin, causing water levels to rise in aquifers.

“These large recharge events are vital in replenishing and maintaining ground water storage, especially after multiple years of below average precipitation across the region,” said USGS scientist and lead author of the study, Melissa Masbruch. “Without them, ground water resources become depleted.”


Large ground water recharge events are characterized by above-average annual precipitation and below-average seasonal temperatures, especially during the spring (April through June), the USGS said in the release. Existing ground water flow models were used to simulate changes in ground water storage in several basins throughout the study area from these events.

For more on the study, click here.

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