PROTECTING AND ENHANCING
ARIZONA’S WATER SUPPLY
Arizona Tri-University Recharge and Water Reliability Project
Escalating drought over the past two decades has led to growing concerns regarding water quantity and quality for Arizona’s communities. At the request of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, a team of researchers from the University of Arizona (UArizona), Arizona State University (ASU), and Northern Arizona University (NAU) will study locations and methods for protecting and enhancing groundwater recharge across the state.
- More than 90% of precipitation that falls as rain and snow in Arizona evaporates before it enters a stream or recharges the groundwater.
- Capturing this water before it escapes to the atmosphere and encouraging it to percolate into the ground to replenish aquifers (enhanced recharge) can increase water supplies for communities and support ecosystems.
- Identify ways to protect water supplies across the state by capturing precipitation before it evaporates or is used by plants
- Focus exclusively on water supplies that would not otherwise have reached a natural channel
- Identify locations for enhanced recharge for human and wildlife needs
- Identify land and vegetation management practices to enhance water availability
- Develop a system for prioritizing recharge sites
The Arizona Tri-University Recharge and Water Reliability Project consists of 5 subteams comprised of researchers, post docs, and graduate students from the three state universities, the University of Arizona, Arizona State University, and Northern Arizona University. The project subteams are Forests and Natural Environments, Urban Environment, Recharge Alteration/Enhancement, Hydroclimate, and Stakeholder and Partner Engagement.
While focused on their individual areas, the researchers will integrate data, methods, and products across subteams.
Example Water Recharge Project from the San Pedro Watershed:
Palominas Flood Control and Recharge Project
The Palominas Flood Control and Recharge Project is managed by Cochise County, Arizona as part of the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network (CCRN). The Network is a consortium of regional organizations formed to implement projects designed to increase groundwater recharge and protect groundwater resources in the most strategic places along the San Pedro River, thereby helping to ensure the health of the riparian corridor and securing water for communities. Employing lessons learned from the CCRN, the Arizona Tri-University Recharge and Water Reliability Project will help identify and prioritize locations for recharge projects across the state to enhance water supply reliability for communities and protect environmental quality.
Diffuse sheetflow is conveyed to the recharge facility.
Constructed basins subsequently recharge with infiltration trenches and dry wells.
- Engage stakeholders, including land and water management agencies and tribal authorities, through workshops and meetings
- Map soils and surface geology to identify areas where water can readily recharge aquifers
- Estimate current and projected future precipitation, evaporation, recharge, and surface water runoff across the state by integrating observations, remote sensing products, and hydrologic models
This project will use hydroclimate modeling to project how potential future warmer climates may affect each recharge mechanism. The modeling results will guide identification of locations for enhanced recharge projects and recommendations of land treatment options.
Click here for the full article from Meixner et al. titled Implications of projected climate change for groundwater recharge in the western United States (2016). Link to the Meixner et al., 2016 figure license is located here.
Findings report will include:
- Potential for enhancing urban recharge associated with rainwater and floodwater harvesting
- Influence of forest and rangeland management options to generate additional water for recharge
- Implications of climate change for both runoff and recharge in the future
- Identification of potential partnerships with stakeholders and land management agencies
- Estimate potential changes in water availability resulting from wildfire, forest, and vegetation management practices in current and future climates
- Assess rainwater harvesting and green infrastructure opportunities to enhance recharge using storm water generated through increased urbanization
- Digital maps of possible locations for enhanced recharge, potential management options for enhancing recharge, and proximity to existing and potential groundwater users and important environmental features
- Description of the processes and tools that can be used to strategically prioritize the areas where recharge potential can be enhanced; links to data, tools and models used
- Annotated review of existing literature supporting the work of this project
Project Investigator: Professor Kathy Jacobs, Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions within the Arizona Institute for Resilience; Professor, Department of Environmental Science, University of Arizona
Kathy Jacobs is a professor of Environmental Science at the UArizona and Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions (CCASS) within the Arizona Institute for Resilience. From 2010-2013, Jacobs worked in the Office of Science and Technology Policy in the White House. She was director of the Third National Climate Assessment, and the lead advisor on water science, water policy, and climate adaptation. From 2006-2009, Jacobs was Executive Director of the Arizona Water Institute, a consortium of Arizona’s three universities focused on water sustainability. She worked 23 years for the Arizona Department of Water Resources, including 15 as the director of the Tucson Active Management Area. She was engaged in multiple aspects of implementing Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act, including development of water conservation programs and the Assured Water Supply Rules.
Project Manager: Dr. Neha Gupta, Assistant Research Professor, Arizona Institute for Resilience, University of Arizona
Neha Gupta is an Assistant Research Professor in the Arizona Institutes for Resilience at the University of Arizona working on urban hydrological issues. Her research focuses on the impact of stormwater green infrastructure on urban stormwater quality and quantity on the small watershed scale in Tucson, Arizona. Additional research focused on projected impacts to water supply and demand due to changes in climate and population growth in the Lower Santa Cruz River Basin. Before starting her PhD, Neha worked as an environmental consultant on contaminated soil and groundwater issues.
Dr. Ali Behrangi, Distinguished Scholar and Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Ali Behrangi is a distinguished scholar and Professor at the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on using remote sensing and ground observation for hydrologic applications and study of water cycle. His major focus has been on precipitation products, from retrieval and development to application. He has utilized hydrologic models to assess precipitation products and for applications such as flood forecasting and drought analysis. He has also been involved in assessment of climate models and how they project future water related components. Behrangi has been PI on several NASA projects on related topics. He teaches few courses including remote sensing of hydrology and atmosphere and global climate change.
Dr. Patrick Broxton, Assistant Research Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
Patrick Broxton a researcher at the University of Arizona, where he received his M.S. in hydrology and Ph.D. in hydrometeorology. He is interested in a broad range of topics related to hydrology, atmospheric science, GIS, and remote sensing. His current research is focused on understanding how snowpack affects streamflow in the semiarid southwestern US and how it might be affected by forest changes due to logging, insect infestations, and fire. Dr. Broxton’s also creates and maintains decision support tools that provide useful visualizations and analytics of hydrometeorological datasets.
Dr. Ty Ferré, Distinguished Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Ty Ferré is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. His areas of research focus are the movement of water from the ground surface to the water table, the use of noninvasive methods to characterize hydrogeologic systems, and the development of models to support water resources decision making. He presented the National Ground Water Association’s Darcy Lecture in 2016 on the latter topic. He teaches courses ranging from physical hydrogeology to field methods to decision science. He is also actively involved as a hydrologic intermediary, helping to bridge the gap between citizen groups and technical consultants.
Dr. Jia Hu, Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Assistant Dean of Graduate Education for the College of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences; Director, Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, University of Arizona
Jia Hu (pronounced Jah Who) is Associate Professor and Associate Director in the School of Natural Resources and Environment at University of Arizona and Affiliate Faculty at the Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. She is also the Host Institution Director for the Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center at University of Arizona. Additionally, Jia serves as the Principal Investigator for the Hu Lab, where she and other researchers study global ecosystems and relationships between plants, water, soil, and climate. Jia’s research interests include climate adaptation and sustainability, ecohydrology, watershed management, and natural resources policy. She has received a number of awards and recognitions for her work, including the Outstanding Scholarly Faculty Achievement award from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Arizona in 2019.
Dr. Yoga Korgaonkar, Assistant Professor of Practice, School of Geography, Development and Environment, University of Arizona
Yoga Korgaonkar is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the School of Geography, Development and Environment. Yoga’s research focuses on urban hydrology and hydrological modeling of urban areas and green stormwater infrastructure. Yoga is also a GIS Analyst and programmer with expertise in working with spatial datasets and analysis of these datasets. Yoga is also the primary developer of the AGWA Urban tool that can be used to model urban hydrology and green infrastructure.
Dr. Willem van Leeuwen, Professor and Interim Director, School of Natural Resources and the Environment; Professor, School of Geography, Development and Environment; Director, Arizona Remote Sensing Center, University of Arizona
Wim van Leeuwen is a Professor and Interim Director of the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. His research interests lie in understanding soil and vegetation ecosystem dynamics and how they respond to climate and human interactions. Dr. van Leeuwen’s research efforts seek an improved understanding of long-term landscape-scale dynamics in forest and rangeland ecosystems, concentrating especially on ecosystem health and sustainability. He applies remote sensing and GIS techniques to problems of sustainable land use and land degradation, with a long-term goal to develop new drought and ecosystem monitoring products based on the integration of climate data and remotely sensed land surface temperature and biophysical data. Current research projects revolve around Decision Support Systems and the integration of remotely sensed products in Geographic Information Systems in order to monitor natural resources, snow and vegetation dynamics, post-wildfire effects, and land degradation through time and across landscapes.
Dr. Giuseppe Mascaro, Associate Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University
Giuseppe Mascaro is an Associate Professor at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). He leads the Hydroclimate & Infrastructure Research Lab, which investigates a range of topics in hydrology, climate, and atmospheric sciences that are useful to support engineering applications by synergistically combining advanced statistical techniques and numerical models of the Earth’s climate and hydrologic cycle. Dr. Mascaro’s interests include stochastic hydrology, statistical downscaling, watershed modeling, impact of climate change on water resources, remote sensing applied to hydrology and water resources, water systems, and hydroinformatics.
Dr. Guo-Yue Niu, Associate Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Guo-Yue Niu is an associate professor at the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, the University of Arizona (UA). His research focuses on improving the understanding of the role of land surface processes playing in the climate system through modeling and data analyses. He has been developing process-based land surface models, including the widely used CLM and Noah-MP, used for weather and climate predictions. To improve predictive understanding of the climate impacts on catchment-scale ecohydrological processes, he has been developing a Terrestrial Integrated Modeling System (TIMS) to describe coevolution of hydrological, microbial, geochemical, and ecological processes at the Earth’s land surface.
Dr. Holly Richter, Principal, Resilient Rivers LLC
Holly founded Resilient Rivers LLC in 2022, after a 35-year career in conservation for The Nature Conservancy. She completed her PhD at Colorado State University, focused on an interdisciplinary riparian ecology, geomorphology, and hydrology simulation model for the Yampa River. Her work has focused on groundwater recharge and protection projects along the Upper San Pedro River, and she was a founding member of both the Upper San Pedro Partnership and later the Cochise Conservation and Recharge Network both of which remain active today. She served as Vice Chair of the Organizing Board of the San Pedro Water District in 2007-2010, and initiated the bi-national wet dry mapping citizen science program for the San Pedro River in 1999, which remains ongoing. Her Coda Fellowship with The Nature Conservancy in 2021 focused on development of global groundwater guidance for freshwater conservation. Holly currently serves as the Coordinator for the Adaptive Management Committee for the cooperative management and monitoring of the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.
Dr. Temuulen “Teki” Sankey, Associate Professor, School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University
Teki Sankey's research focuses on geospatial data analysis and applications in coupled human-environment systems. She uses satellite-borne multispectral data and airborne hyperspectral and lidar data in geospatial and ecological applications. The ecosystems she has studied include: ponderosa pine forests in the southwestern USA, grassland-forest ecotones, aspen communities and pinyon-juniper woodlands of the inter-mountain USA, sagebrush steppe in the northern Great Basin and Columbia Plateau, USA, and grassland steppe and Siberian larch forests of northern Mongolia. At a regional scale, she examines land management and climate change effects on southwestern desert plant communities as well as forested ecosystems. In many local-scale studies, Dr. Sankey is excited to use her newly-acquired UAV instrumentation to evaluate the effects of wildfires and forest restoration treatments on hydrology, soil moisture, evapotranspiration, snow accumulation, and soil erosion.
Dr. Abe Springer, Professor, School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University
Abe Springer is Professor of Ecohydrogeology and was the Inaugural Director of the School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability at Northern Arizona. In the Fall of 2007, he was the Fulbright Visiting Chair of Water and Environment at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada studying the ecohydrology of springs of Western Canada. In 2022, he was the Birdsall-Dreiss Distinguished and LaMoreaux International Lecturer for the Hydrogeology Scientific Division of the Geological Society of America. Since arriving at NAU in 1994, he has taught courses in hydrogeology, geology of Arizona, environmental geology, applied geology, groundwater modeling, contaminant transport modeling, university colloquium and others. Dr. Springer and his students study local and regional groundwater flow systems and human impacts on them, apply principles of sustainability to aquifer management through models, quantify the hydrological function of groundwater dominated ecosystems, the role of land-use change and disturbance on groundwater flow systems, study karst hydrogeology, and restoration of riparian ecosystems.
Dr. Tianfang Xu, Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University
Tianfang Xu is an assistant professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Her research combines physical process-based models with machine learning to improve predictive capability and understanding of water resources systems, groundwater in particular, under human adaptations and climate change. Her research has been supported by various funding agencies, including the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Her research experience relevant to the tri-university project includes quantifying tradeoffs in water quantity and quality in a managed aquifer recharge facility, large-scale agricultural irrigation monitoring using remote sensing and deep learning, and regional-scale groundwater flow modeling, bias correction, and uncertainty quantification. She teaches several courses including Groundwater Hydrology and Groundwater Modeling.
Dr. Aniket Gupta, Postdoctoral Associate, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Aniket Gupta is a Postdoctoral Associate at the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona (UA). His research focuses on using the physical based hydrological model to study the hydrological processes from surface to subsurface. His expertise include catchment hydrology, mountain hydrology, critical zone hydrology, snow hydrology and land surface modeling. He has completed his Ph.D. from the University of Grenoble Alpes, France with specialization in Hydrological Sciences. His Ph.D. work was focus on modeling the water, energy and residence time in a subalpine critical zone. He has experience in modeling the hydrological system using the different modeling platforms and currently involved in the projects which sees the benefits from multi modeling environment under the NextGen Framework.
Dr. Ryan Lima, Postdoctoral Scholar, School of Earth and Sustainability, School of Informatics, Computing, and Cyber Systems, Northern Arizona University
Ryan has an interdisciplinary background with bachelor's degrees in both Philosophy and Plant Ecology from Ohio University. He then spent several years working seasonally for the National Park Service as a wildland firefighter, fire effects monitor, and upland vegetation monitor. Ryan earned a master's degree in Environmental Science & Policy where he worked to quantify the non-market value of hydrologic services of springs and forested watersheds in Northern Arizona. He earned a Ph.D. working in the remote sensing and geoinformatics lab at NAU and his dissertation research focused on measuring the effect of dam discharge patterns on sandbar morphodynamics using deep learning. Ryan comes to this project most recently from the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy where he oversaw a project developing indicators of land use and water resources in the Colorado River Basin.
Dr. Abdul Moiz, Postdoctoral Scholar, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University
Dr. Abdul Moiz is a postdoctoral scholar at the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment (SSEBE) at Arizona State University. He received his Masters and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering at The University of Tokyo and later worked there as a Project Researcher at the Department of Civil Engineering and the Center for Global Commons. His research primarily focuses on the development of decision-support tools for the operation and development of dam reservoirs using Distributed Hydrological Models and Geographic Information Systems. He has also been actively involved in the process-based Distributed Hydrological Models and real-time hydrometeorological prediction systems using gauge-radar and reanalysis products and investigating their skill and value in mountainous regions.
Dr. Xin Su, Postdoc Associate Researcher, School of Sustainable Engineering & the Built Environment, Arizona State University
Xin Su is a postdoc associate researcher in the School of Sustainable Engineering & the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU) working with Dr Tianfang Xu. Her research has been focusing on urban surface and subsurface flow interaction, especially short-term tide influences near shore groundwater fluctuation and long-term groundwater level increase. In addition, she also studied coastal groundwater systems respond to sea-level rise and tested adaptation strategies. She received her PhD degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, working on urban groundwater modeling, and master’s degree was from University of California Irvine studying north California mountain area seasonal streamflow prediction.
Dr. Yuan Qiu, Postdoctoral Research Associate III, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University Arizona
Yuan Qiu is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. His advisors are Dr. Guo-Yue Niu and Dr. Ali Behrangi. He earned his PhD in Cartography and Geography Information System in June 2018. Then, he worked in an agriculture technology company for six months. He then worked in the Institute of Atmospheric Physics Chinese Academy of Sciences as a postdoctoral research associate until July 2023. His research focuses on regional climate modeling with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. Now, he is involved in the ATUR project and the CIROH project. He is advancing land surfacing modeling to improve hydrologic prediction on sub-seasonal to seasonal (S2S) scale.
Fern Bromley, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
Fern Bromley is a graduate student in the Natural Resources (Master's in Watershed Management & Ecohydrology) program at School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. Fern studied Earth and Environmental Sciences for their Bachelor's and previously researched varying climate sensitivity of sap flow. Additionally, Fern previously worked with the National Park Service conducting invasive plant management and vegetation inventory and monitoring in the Tucson area and across the Southwest. Their current interests are centered on regional grassland and woodland ecohydrology and the effects of vegetation management on groundwater recharge.
Ken Ferrell Jr., School of Geography, Development and Environment, University of Arizona
Ferrell Jr is a graduate student (M.S.) in the School of Geography, Development and Environment at the University of Arizona. Ken has a background in hydrology, spatial analysis and geomorphology, with some experience in civil and environmental engineering and sensors. His research interests include fluvial geomorphology, impacts of climate change on hydrology in urban and natural landscapes, predictive modeling and remote sensing.
Kangsan Lee, School of Geography, Development and Environment, University of Arizona
Kangsan Lee is a PhD student at the University of Arizona's School of Geography, Development & Environment. Holding an M.A in Geography from the University of Iowa, his background includes expertise in remote sensing, demonstrated during his tenure as a Remote Sensing Analyst in the Republic of Korean Army's Geospatial Analysis Team. Kangsan's professional focus lies in wildfire assessment through various remote sensing tools, particularly UAVs, as well as studying the influence of forest changes on snowpack-streamflow dynamics in the semiarid southwestern US.
Charmaine Leonidas, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
Charmaine Leonidas is a graduate student pursuing a M.S. Water, Society, and Policy in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. Charmaine has years of experience as a project manager, most recently for non-profits working on sustainable water and sanitation management. Currently, Charmaine is working with the National Parks Service on a water claims adjudication project. Charmaine’s current interests are in harnessing non-traditional water sources.
Rayni Lewis, Graduate Student, Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University
Rayni Lewis is a graduate student in the Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability (PhD) Program in the School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. Rayni has a background in geology, geomorphology, and mathematics. Her research interests include hydrogeology, fluvial geomorphology, remote sensing applied to hydrology, and the impacts of land management on hydrogeologic systems.
Caelum Mroczek, Graduate Student, Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, School of Earth and Sustainability, Northern Arizona University
Caelum Mroczek is a graduate student in the Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability (PhD) program in the School of Earth and Sustainability at Northern Arizona University. Caelum’s research interests include regional groundwater flow dynamics, sustainable aquifer management, surface water – groundwater interactions, and effects of climate change on ecohydrologic systems.
Kristin Pearthree, Graduate Student, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
Kristin Pearthree is a graduate student in the Water, Society, and Policy (MS) Program in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Arizona. Kristin comes from a background in the earth sciences, with previous experience as a Research Scientist and Hydrogeology Technician at the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, where her work focused on surficial geologic mapping, managing a statewide groundwater monitoring network, and science outreach. Kristin’s professional interests lie in collaborative water management to support water availability for communities and environmental use.
Nathan Strom, Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Nathan Strom is a graduate student in the Hydrology (MS) Program within the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. Nathan received his BSc from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He has prior work experience in the hydrological monitoring of urban watersheds, water and soil quality analysis in agricultural settings, and the analysis of industrial air emissions. His research interests include surface-groundwater interactions, hydrogeology, the impact of urbanization on an area’s watershed dynamics, and stream hydrology.
Héctor Leopoldo Venegas Quiñones, Graduate Student, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Héctor Leopoldo Venegas Quiñones is a Graduate Student in the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. Hector has a background in hydraulic engineering, hydrology, and GIS. He received a bachelors in Watershed Management at the University of Chile and another Bachelors in Environmental Engineering from Andres Bello National University. He also has three Masters degrees, one in Hydraulic Engineering from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, and two from the University of Arizona in Hydrology and in GIS. Hector also has work experience in both private and public sectors. Currently, Hector is pursuing a PhD in Hydrology at the UA as well as working at Montgomery and Associates. Hector has a passion for finding sustainable solutions to environmental challenges, and has experience in remote sensing, machine learning, groundwater, flood, and vertical displacement.
This project is funded by the Arizona Board of Regents through the
Technology Research Initiative Fund