Conjunctive Surface and Groundwater Management in Utah: Implications for Oil Shale and Oil Sands Development
Conjunctive Surface and Groundwater Management in Utah: Implications for Oil Shale and Oil Sands Development Unconventional fuel development will require scarce water resources. In an environment characterized by scarcity, and where most water resources are fully allocated, prospective development will require minimizing water use and seeking to use water resources in the most efficient manner. Conjunctive use of surface and groundwater provides just such an opportunity. Conjunctive use includes two main practices: First, integrating surface water diversions and groundwater withdrawals to maximize efficiency and minimize impacts on other resource users and ecological processes. Second, conjunctive use includes capturing surplus or unused surface water and injecting or infiltrating that water into groundwater aquifers in order to increase recharge rates. Conjunctive management holds promise as a means of addressing some of the West's most intractable problems. Conjunctive management can firm up water supplies by more effectively capturing spring runoff and surplus water, and by integrating its use with groundwater withdrawals; surface and groundwater use can be further integrated with managed aquifer recharge projects. Such integration can maximize water storage and availability, while simultaneously minimizing evaporative loss, reservoir sedimentation, and surface use impacts. Any of these impacts, if left unresolved, could derail commercial-scale unconventional fuel development. Unconventional fuel developers could therefore benefit from incorporating conjunctive use into their development plans. Despite its advantages, conjunctive use is not a panacea. Conjunctive use means using resources in harmony to maximize more »
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