The City of Provo has experienced rapid growth, and due to increased water demands and climate changes, groundwater levels have been declining. In 2019, Barr began working with the city to perform an extensive ASR (aquifer storage and recovery) study and implementation of future ASR projects. ASR involves moving excess water during wet or snowy periods or that is available through water rights into the ground for storage in local aquifers. Together with the city and its water-rights attorney, we searched for surface-water sources and infiltration and injection sites that were appropriate and consistent with the city’s 40-year water-supply plan. Along with conducting geophysical surveys for the most promising sites, Barr developed a detailed three-dimensional geologic model and worked with groundwater models to conceptualize the hydrogeology in this complex geological setting that includes active faults, historical Lake Bonneville deposits, and canyon erosion.
Other challenges included identifying how and where snow melt recharged aquifers, measuring flows in ephemeral streams, and analyzing source- and receiving-water chemistry, all within a complex, regulated water-rights setting. Our team generated and ranked potential ASR locations and prepared cost estimates for the most promising sites. To help stakeholders visualize how the ASR projects will work, Barr developed easy-to-understand graphics, maps, and figures. After installing monitoring networks and doing extensive water quality testing of the aquifers at each selected sites, pilot studies for selected ASR sites began in spring 2020, continuing through the year. Barr is also leading efforts to obtain state and federal grant and loan funds to help the city plan, permit, design, and construct the final ASR projects.