Insight With Beth Ruyak

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UC Davis Professor: Levee Setbacks May Help Replenish Groundwater Supplies

Photo Courtesy Of UC Merced

Researchers found that removing levees on the Cosumnes River can help recharge groundwater. Scientists on the project -- from left, Drew Nichols, UC Davis, Christina Bradley, UC Merced, Carson Jeffres,UC Davis and Marilyn Fogel, UC Merced.

Photo Courtesy Of UC Merced

Updated 3:02 p.m. --  In the fourth year of drought, California must rely more on groundwater supplies because surface water is scarce. 

UC Davis hydrology professor Graham Fogg says research shows moving levees farther back on a river's edge can help recharge groundwater supplies.

"We're losing snowpack, we're losing that snow storage, which makes it more difficult for us to store water in our surface reservoirs," he said. "So, there's a lot of talk about how do we store more water underground. 

Fogg says the concept would restore historic rivers' floodplains.

"As the snow melts sooner and we get more rain on snow due to climate change, there's going to be more runoff in winter,” said Fogg. “So that could provide an opportunity along many river courses where we can reconnect them with their floodplain and recharge the groundwater system."

Fogg said levees couldn't be moved where they protect cities. But the concept might be applied in parts of the Central Valley.

He made his comments Wednesday on Capital Public Radio's Insight with Beth Ruyak.

-Ed Joyce / Capital Public Radio

Original Post 8 a.m. -- In the fourth year of drought, California is relying more and more on groundwater supplies  when surface water supplies are scarce. We’ll talk with UC Davis hydrology professor Graham Fogg talks about research suggesting that giving levees a wider setback from a river can help recharge groundwater supplies.



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