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Groundwater Information & Educational Resources

Sustainable Groundwater Management

The 3rd International Conference "Toward Sustainable Agriculture in Groundwater - Linking Science and Policy" will take place in Burlingame/San Francisco, 17-20 June 2024. Mark your calendar!

Groundwater Sustainability Agencies  in over 120 California groundwater basins are now implementing Groundwater Sustainability Plans to comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA).

Last spring, with a huge snowpack in California's mountains, reservoirs filling quickly, and floods threatening California's valleys, a lot of folks were looking at more ways to put a lot of this flood water into our depleted aquifers to improve sustainability of groundwater resources. We provided a summary overview of Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) and have also proposed some additional considerations for MAR on dairy land application areas. Here are some of our interviews with the press:

Hear more about groundwater on this NPR podcast, or in this "Seen and Herd" podcast. Or find out about our research efforts at the Frontiers of Sustainable Groundwater Management.

Learn about the implementation of SGMA (webcast) and its written summary on Maven's Notebook. Understand how groundwater and surface water is connected with this webinar.

What happens to our groundwater during drought?  Many of the lessons and stories from the 2012-2016 drought are relevant to the ongoing drought (2020-current): Watch  this one hour presentation on groundwater, drought, and related aspects, taped at the National Academy of Sciences. Or a 30 minute groundwater webinar (or it's summary at Maven's notebook) that provides a brief, easy to understand introduction on California groundwater, how it works, how it is being used, how droughts affect groundwater levels, and how groundwater in California is managed (produced by the University of California Institute for Water Resources as part of their "Water & Drought Online Seminar Series"). More interesting drought links are here.

A look back on past groundwater drought news in this PBS Newshour story or on CBS' 60 Minutes; in NPR's hourlong radio feature on groundwater, drought, and global water scarcity (August 2014) or in this 6-minute feature on NPR's Here and Now (September 2014). And when is a drought over for groundwater (2017)? 




Nitrate in Drinking Water

 Visit our new "groundwater tools" website to learn more about research and software development regarding nitrate, salinity, and other nonpoint source pollution of groundwater. The SBX2 1 UC Davis Report on Nitrate in California Drinking Water reviews sources of nitrate in groundwater and source reduction options, groundwater nitrate occurrence and remediation options, drinking water treatment and alternative supply options, cost, and funding and policy solutions to provide safe drinking water to communities encountering nitrate contaminated groundwater. At the University of Waterloo 2020 Farvolden Lecture, I provided an overview of California groundwater nonpoint source regulations and nitrate management approaches.



Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture

 The upcoming 2024 International Agricultural Groundwater Conference will again provide a comprehensive up-to-date multimedia resource on groundwater quality and groundwater resources management in agriculture and at the agriculture-urban-environment interfaces, which includes overviews of the many issues at the groundwater-agriculture interface; analyses, evaluations and background information across the spectrum of science, technology, policy developments, regulatory programs, and hands-on management practices; contributions from across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America. Look here for updates on the next conference, targeted for June 2024:

“Toward Sustainable Groundwater In Agriculture -
Linking Science And Policy”

In 2016, the last time this conference was held, more than 200 presentations were given at the second international conference held in June 2016 in San Francisco, California; abstracts, powerpoint presentations, and videos of the presentations will be available in September 2016; the materials and videos from over 130 presentations at the first international conference in 2010 are also available.



What We Do

Our groundwater research, education, and outreach program primarily works with the water resources industry (public water supply utilities, irrigation districts, water districts, etc.), research, planning, and regulatory agencies on the local, county, state and federal level, farm advisors in county cooperative extension, the agricultural industry, and with NGOs engaged in agricultural and rural regions. The components of the program are:

  1. An integrated basic and applied research program that emphasizes regional groundwater hydrology and sustainable groundwater management planning/modeling/assessment, water quality and contaminant fate and transport in both vadose zone and groundwater, and techniques for sampling and monitoring groundwater systems; [Publications]

  2. An extension program that provides educational and technical support to local, state, and federal agencies, to groundwater sustainability agencies, irrigation and water districts, county farm advisors, conservation districts, and policy makers in both the agricultural and urban sectors in the state. Check out our groundwater guides, factsheets, video-blogs, and our Groundwater & Watershed book in "Publications".

  3. Coordination of groundwater related programs and events among faculty in hydrology related areas at UC Davis, with other extension specialists and farm advisors, with federal, state and local agencies, water districts, irrigation districts, conservation districts, NGOs, and other groups that are concerned with and engaged in sustainable groundwater management.

We provide multi-faceted research, technical advising, outreach, and education support toward the implementation of California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and of California's regulatory groundwater quality programs to address nitrate, salinity, and other emerging nonpoint source/ diffuse contaminants. Our program offers support throughout California with emphasis on rural and agricultural regions. We also engage with national and international partners to support global discovery, learning, and best management adaptation in this arena. From 2007 to 2020, the program has been an integral part of the Robert M. Hagan Endowed Chair in Water Management and Policy.  Since 2021, the program is part of the Nora S. Gustavsson Endowed Professorship for Groundwater Resources in Agriculture.

In 2007, our program received the Kevin J. Neese Award, presented by the California Groundwater Resources Association for the best groundwater project of the year. The award was given in recognition of our program's efforts to better understand groundwater quality issues related to dairy activities and our involvement in improving management practices on dairies.



Our Vision

Sustainable groundwater resources for healthy people, healthy working landscapes, and a healthy environment.

Our Mission

The mission of the Nora S. Gustavsson Endowed Professorship and the University of California Cooperative Extension Groundwater Program is to investigate, develop, and provide educational and scientific/technical support on current and emerging groundwater resources and groundwater quality issues in California's working landscapes.

Groundwater Information And Education For You

Want to know how groundwater works? What your water rights are? How a watershed works? How you can protect your watershed? How to get a water sample? Here is full-color, great introductory book on all aspects of water - browse through the book online:

“Watersheds, Groundwater, And Drinking Water”

- A Practical Guide -

Published by ANR Publications, 2008
274 pages, full color, $55.-


The link buttons on the left take you to a wide range of resources, for example:

PUBLICATIONS - our popular books, factsheets, videoblogs, research publications

CALIFORNIA LINKS - California groundwater info, data, agencies, related resources

OTHER LINKS - national/international groundwater related webpages and resources

CALIFORNIA WATER BLOG - water and groundwater related notes