Flows framework applied in groundwater management efforts

Posted January 27, 2024

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has begun using a statewide scientific framework that was originally developed to help managers determine the environmental flow needs of California streams to also help shape more sustainable groundwater management practices statewide.

The California Environmental Flows Framework (CEFF), which was co-developed by SCCWRP, is in the process of being incorporated into ongoing efforts by DWR to determine when groundwater pumping may adversely affect the environmental flows that sustain vulnerable aquatic life and ecosystems, as well as DWR efforts to set sustainability criteria for groundwater management that help protect beneficial uses provided by flowing surface waters.

CEFF, unveiled in 2021, was originally developed to help managers make informed decisions about how to allocate limited surface flows that balance both human and ecosystem needs for flowing water.

In November, SCCWRP trained about 125 DWR staff on using CEFF. DWR also intends to use the framework for other groundwater management applications, including to inform strategies for implementing flood managed aquifer recharge (Flood-MAR), in which certain areas are deliberately flooded to recharge underground aquifers.

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