Aspect Talks Reclaimed Water, ASR, and Walla Walla Basin at 2019 AWWA

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Andrew Austreng, Jon Turk, and John Warinner will be presenting Thursday and Friday May 2 and 3rd at the American Water Works Association (AWWA) ‘River Runs Through It’ 2019 Section Conference in Vancouver, WA. Andrew will present on the Othello, WA Aquifer Storage and Recovery project; Jon Turn will showcase groundwater recharge strategies for a unique project involving reclaimed water in Kitsap County; and John Warinner will discuss challenges and opportunities of managing groundwater across two state lines in the Walla Walla subbasin.

The annual AWWA conference is one of the largest conferences for water professionals in the Pacific Northwest.

Aspect Talks Water at AWWA Conference

Tim Flynn and Dan Haller will both be presenting Friday April 27th at the AWWA ‘Just Add Water’ 2018 Section Conference in Tacoma. Friday morning, Tim’s presentation will focus on the City of Othello’s unique approach to source development by securing new supplies using irrigation canals, reclaimed water and ASR.

Aspect’s Andrew Austreng will be moderating the afternoon Water Resources technical session during which Dan Haller will be presenting an overview of water rights and water banking in WA.

Chris Augustine Presents on Key Concepts in Thermal ASR Systems at AWWA

Aspect’s Senior Hydrogeologist Chris Augustine will be presenting on his work on developing a thermal Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) system at this year’s annual Pacific Northwest Section American Water Works Association (AWWA) conference in Kennewick, WA.

While at another firm, and collaborating with Boise White Paper, LLC (Boise) and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology), Chris worked on a Wallula, Washington project that would store cold Columbia River water in the winter and spring months and then recover the stored water during the summer months when the temperature of the Columbia River becomes warmer. 

His presentation will focus on the goal of the project to reduce operational costs for cooling of process water and reduce surface water diversion during the summer to meet the target yield of 4,000 gallons per minute.

Learn more here: American Water Works Association

Aspect President, Tim Flynn, to Guest Lecture at Seattle University Law School

Aspect President, Tim Flynn, has been invited by Michael O’Connell, former partner at Stoel Rives LLP and Adjunct Professor at Seattle University, to guest lecture at Seattle University’s Water Law course this November. Tim is excited to share what he’s learned in the decades of providing water rights and aquifer storage and recovery services to clients throughout Washington’s diverse landscapes.

Tim Flynn talks Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) at the NGWA Conference in Portland

This September 8-9 the National Groundwater Association will host the “Connecting the Dots…Groundwater, Surface Water, and Climate Connections” conference in Portland, Oregon.  This 2-day conference will focus on the connections between groundwater, surface water, and climate in the area encompassing Washington, Idaho, Oregon, northern California, and British Columbia.

Aspect’s president and principal hydrogeologist Tim Flynn will present on day two of the conference in the Drought Resilience/Water Availability/Scarcity portion of the conference. He will be presenting on Aquifer Storage and Recovery and will examine the challenges and opportunities of ASR. Learn more about the conference HERE.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery: An Innovative Approach to Water Storage

After years of work, Aspect recently finished a pilot test that will help the City of White Salmon (City) implement one of only a handful of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) systems in the state. ASR—essentially taking advantage of natural geology, man-made wells, and climate patterns to create an underground reservoir—is an attractive water supply concept. It’s relatively low-cost (compared to building an above ground reservoir), has a small environmental footprint, and in arid climates reduces losses from evaporation. However, permitting of an ASR system involves overcoming technical operational hurdles that hinge on two key questions:

  1. How much water are you getting back? (recoverability)
  2. Will injection or withdrawal affect water quality? (Washington State Department of Ecology’s (Ecology) antidegradation policy)

During Aspect’s monthly technical exchange series, Aspect’s Tim Flynn, Joe Morrice, and Jared Bean gave a presentation and explained Aspect’s experience with ASR in the state and what it means for future water supply.

Creating an Underground Reservoir

Essentially, this concept uses nature’s pre-built reservoirs (aquifers) to create an underground reservoir or tank to store water when it’s plentiful and withdraw it when it’s scarce. In water resources terminology, ASR typically uses seasonally available surface water to help recharge—or move water from the surface into the ground—an aquifer. It does this by capturing excess water during the winter and spring months, when surface water flows are generally high and water system demands low, and injecting that water via a well (or engineered infiltration basin) into the underground aquifer. During the dry summer season, water is withdrawn for use when surface water flows are low and water system demand is at its peak. 

Figure 1. ASR System Cycle
Source: www.groundwatergeek.com

The basic components of an ASR system include:

  • The right kind of Aquifer. Bedrock or unconsolidated aquifers may both be suitable for ASR, but ideally the target aquifer would be bounded by geologic faults or other barriers that limit the flow and loss of stored water in storage before it is recovered from the aquifer.
  • Source water of suitable quality. This is typically surface water from rivers or streams, but with the appropriate water quality treatment and permitting process can include stormwater runoff, remediated groundwater, reclaimed water, and industrial process water. These sources should be chemically compatible with ambient groundwater and do not contain constituents that would violate the State groundwater quality standards, including the antidegradation standard, or can be treated to meet these standards.
  • A way to put water in and to take it out. This means infrastructure for ASR source water diversion, treatment (as needed), conveyance, and injection to the subsurface through one or more wells, with subsequent pumping to recover stored water.

ASR in Washington State

Although ASR has been in practice for many years in other parts of the nation, it’s a fairly new concept to northwestern states that have typically relied on mountain snowpack as a form of water storage to provide supply during summer months. Because of Washington’s recent drought and the scarcity of water in many surface water basins, especially during summer low flows, ASR’s popularity is growing. In Washington state, there are approximately 9 projects in development. The existing policy framework for ASR in Washington state came about in the early 2000s with two developments:

  1. In 2000, the state’s expansion of the definition of “reservoir” to include “…underground geologic formation(s)… as part of an (ASR) project” (RCW 90.03.370); and
  2. In 2003, Ecology’s adoption of the ASR rule (WAC 173-157) which established standards for ASR projects, including standards related to water rights, water quality, water treatment, and geotechnical impacts.   

Aspect is currently working on three ASR projects in Washington, Arizona, and California. Our ASR projects locations in the PNW currently span western, central, and southern Washington and include both basalt (bedrock) and unconsolidated, glacial outwash host-aquifers.  

Figure 2. Groundwater Recharge Projects in Washington State
(ASR = Aquifer Storage and Recovery; SAR = Shallow Aquifer Recharge)
Source: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/wr/asr/asr-home.html

City of White Salmon ASR

The City has historically relied on surface water from Buck Creek for the City’s water supply.  In 2002, the City switched to groundwater wells as their primary supply but with decreasing well yields and limited water rights along with the WA Department of Health issuing a moratorium on new connections the City is seeking new alternatives to boost their water supply. One of these alternatives is to explore the possibility of ASR.  Aspect has helped the City pursue this option by coordinating with Ecology throughout the process. After receiving an Ecology grant, and approval of the feasibility study, an AKART analysis was completed which secured Ecology approval for pilot testing.

The most recent pilot test involved the injection of 32 acre-feet of water over the span of 53 days (135 gallons per minute, or about 200,000 gallons per day).  With the current well and conveyance configuration the City can expect to inject, store and recover about 100 acre-feet per year, which provides approximately 25% of peak (summer) demand.  These numbers are with current operational constraints of a gravity fed non-continuous injection.  If the City upgrades to pressurized injection (continuous) then they can expect more than 300 acre-feet per year, or about 74 percent of peak summer demands.

Figure 3. Conceptual Hydrogeologic Model of White Salmon Project Area
Source: Aspect Consulting

One major concern is to make sure the quality of the water isn’t degraded while in ‘storage’.  The pilot test showed the formation of disinfection byproducts (DBPs) from treating the injected water with chlorine prior to injection.  Ecology’s antidegradation policy says injected water cannot impact native groundwater or source water quality. Groundwater quality monitoring throughout the pilot test showed that DBPs did form in the injection water, but quickly dissipated in the aquifer.

The other hurdle is the recoverable quantity of water or the amount of water recouped from what was originally injected, i.e., “recoverability”. Ecology requires that the same water that is stored be recovered, and any stored water that migrates past the capture zone of the recovery well is no longer available for use.  Aspect has estimated, based on water quality monitoring and aquifer hydraulic response to injection and recovery, that the White Salmon ASR system has 85% recoverability of injected water.

Aspect is engaged in ongoing discussions and interactions with Ecology’s water quality and water rights permitting programs regarding these issues and how to efficiently complete the required permitting while protecting groundwater quality and water rights, including instream flows for the City of White Salmon and other ASR projects.

The interpretation and understanding of water quality and water right permitting requirements for ASR projects is evolving as project proponents advance their plans through Ecology. Aspect will continue to work with clients across the state to use ASR as a viable option in providing water where and when it’s needed most.