Do governments re-fill underground aquifers?

I this story about the drought, and the last sentences caught my eye:

It makes sense that this is possible, but is it actually done by anybody as a matter of deliberate policy? I’ve never heard of it, and I wonder if this is more of a theoretical than actual.

I’m in Alberta. I’ve never heard of this.

ETA: And why is this in the Pit?

Because fucking aquifers are in fucking pits?

I just learned that some people in Vancouver Canada are on water rationing. They can only water their yards every other day. Maybe the Canadian government is doing that because they want to sell the water to people who need to refill the aquifers?

And, yeah, this shouldn’t be in the Pit.

It looks like it’s being considered.

ETA: It just doesn’t feel right to give a serious, non-obscene answer in the pit.

Oops. meant it to be in GQ, not the Pit. I will report it, and perhaps Pit myself over this.

The horror…the horror.

Never heard of such a thing.

OTOH, a recent story about the drought causing some people’s wells to dry up talked about some businesses that would come out and flush water back down into your well so you could draw it back up over the next week. One guy was selling 2100 gallons per week to some people for this purpose. Made me wonder why the hell they didn’t just rent out or buy big water storage tanks.

They should refill them with lemonade, just to give the farmers a zesty surprise.

Or Brawndo. It’s what plants crave!

This handy guide should help:

I’m gonna go down to the aquifer and pour shit down there.

I am going to hunt you down and hurt you. ALOT! After your ears and eys start bleeding because of my grammer and bad typing, I’m going to feed pop rocks to your cats.

Suffer and die a painful death!!!

Happy to move it, considering how few threads get moved to GQ from the Pit.

Yes, some governments do refill aquifers. Where I live, this is done though percolation ponds, though any large water holding storage will refill the aquifer below it.

I am hopeful this will not turn into a train wreck of posters trash talking our water supply requiring the thread to be moved back into the Pit.

I don’t have time to hunt up a cite. I have read that water in aquifers is very pure from filtering through the various sediment layers.

Pumping river water into a aquifer could have unexpected consequences. It would need some study before trying it.

Here in South Oz, one of the local councils pumps storm water into an aquifer. However this is less a simple act of restoration, rather they are using the aquifer as a very large filter and store. They withdraw roughly what they add. However their ability to use otherwise unusable storm water means they save a lot of water form other sources. We have serious water issues down this part of the planet.

Long term I do wonder if they could be considered to be depleting the aquifer’s ability to hold pollutants and sediment - eventually clogging it up. Thus deleting another natural resource. Nothing is easy.

Water is sometimes added directly to aquifers through injection wells, but usually only for a few specialized applications. If they’re not drilled into a water supply aquifer, they can be used as disposal sites for treated wastewater, stormwater runoff, or other relatively benign waste streams, and wells that are particularly well isolated from water supplies can be used as disposal sites for hazardous wastes. They’re used for on-site remediation of groundwater pollution in a pump and treat system (just what it sounds like: contaminated water is pumped out of the aquifer and treated; the treated water is then reinjected). As Francis Vaughan says, they’re also used as short-term storage for future use. In the Middle East, I think they’re used for groundwater recharge, but I’m not aware of any injection wells for this purpose in the US. If you’re curious, you can find details on the EPA’s injection well regulations regulations here.

Yes and no - remember that sedimentary deposits tend to be layered, with different properties depending on what kind of material you have and how it was deposited. Their ability to hold and transmit water varies layer-by-layer as well, so you have different kinds of aquifers. Percolation ponds will allow water to flow into unconfined aquifers (see the illustration here), but that may not be the same aquifer that local wells are tapping. It’s more common to discharge to an area that’s not hydraulically connected to your water supply just to minimize the risk of contamination if something goes wrong.

Groundwater doesn’t typically require the same level of treatment that surface water does - it’s less likely to contain particulates or bacterial contamination. However, it’s more likely to contain higher concentrations of dissolved solids (calcium and sodium salts, metals, sulfur, etc.), so it’s not an either-or proposition.

Pumping river water directly into an aquifer (close to a supply well) would give you the worst of both worlds, and strikes me as a Very Bad Idea.

The other problem is hat in many of these aquifers, the water percolates slowly through porous rock. You can’t just add half a river’s flow and have it fill the rock layer like it was an empty tank. If the water is not addednear where it was taken out, there could be decades or longer for the water to go from the more wet area where recharge happens, to the area where it is most exploited.

OTOH, the “porous rock” is a natural filter for a lot of the non-soluble contaminants - silt, bacteria, etc. The downside is that fine silt will eventually plug your input hole, slowing the rate at which water percolates inward. You can’t replace thousands of square miles and thousands of years of slow seepage with a pond and some drill holes, especially when some farmers are probably pumping as much onto one farm as you are trying to put back in for the whole aquifer.