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UC Groundwater Cooperative Extension Program: Research Projects

Research Needs

A critical issue facing California groundwater is the management of groundwater resources and groundwater quality in rural communities and agricultural areas of California. With respect to groundwater resources, many agricultural areas of California face continued overdraft of their groundwater resources resulting in subsidence, increased economic cost, and questionable future resource reliability. With respect to groundwater quality, nonpoint source pollution of groundwater from agricultural chemicals is widespread and threatens approximately an order of magnitude more drinking water wells in the State of California than pollution from industrial and municipal sources. Lack of data, lack of adequate understanding of hydrogeologic settings, the variety of landuse on various management scales, and lack of geologic, physical, and chemical process understanding make it difficult for the water resource industry, for the agricultural industry, and for regulatory and planning agencies to effectively address these issues.

Research Program Outline

The integrated basic and applied research program deals with some of the most urgent groundwater issues in California's rural areas. The research efforts can be divided into three groups: application of state-of-the-art groundwater modeling and geographic information system tools to groundwater management in rural areas, field investigations of hydrogeologic properties and groundwater contaminant transport, and the theoretical analysis of the fate of pollutants in highly complex geologic systems. Thomas Harter is the principal investigator on these projects.