Drought Reserves for Water Supply Security

A sufficient and reliable water supply is crucial. This research project is evaluating a key adaptation strategy to proactively and sustainably reduce the risk of water shortages associated with drought - the establishment of local groundwater drought reserves. Our goal is to elucidate factors that motivate stakeholders in moving from reactively curtailing water use after a drought to a proactive strategy of developing a local reserve supply prior to the onset of a drought. Our study area is coastal California where high annual variability in rainfall and claims to water by more diverse interests have increased demands on water supplies. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these stresses including an increase in the frequency and duration of droughts. This research project consists of the:

  • Investigation of physical and institutional opportunities and constraints to developing and sustaining a local groundwater reserve;
  • Identification of factors that motivate agencies with long-term groundwater overdraft and significant conflicts over water to reduce drought vulnerability through improved groundwater management and development of a local groundwater reserve;
  • Development of targets, mechanisms, and incentives to support improved management practices and the development of a local groundwater reserve;
  • Analysis of the impacts of sustaining a local groundwater reserve versus a no-reserve option, and an outline of a modeling approach to calculate financial costs and benefits;
  • Development of web-based tools to assist local agencies and communities in calculating metrics to determine sustainable groundwater thresholds for a groundwater reserve.