President Joe Biden signed the National Defense Appropriations Act, which also included the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 (WRDA), on December 23.
WRDA is a biennial bill that grants authority and funding to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to carry out water resource development projects and studies.
For the first time since its creation, this year’s Water Resources Development Act contains a provision focused on studying the expansion of managed aquifer recharge (MAR) in current and future USACE projects. MAR is the purposeful resupply of water to aquifers for subsequent recovery or for environmental benefit.
The provision was drafted with the assistance of NGWA and its members and was a key policy focus for the Association throughout the year.
- Authorizes the USACE, in consultation with nonfederal partners, to conduct a national assessment on the implementation of MAR in current and future projects
- Creates a working group within the USACE to centralize the corps’ knowledge on MAR and assist with feasibility studies
- Requires a report to Congress on the results and data collected from the study and an evaluation of the benefits of a potential center of expertise for MAR
- Authorizes up to 10 MAR feasibility studies with a 90:10 federal/nonfederal partner cost share.
The study would focus specifically on regions that have experienced prolonged drought, aquifer depletion, or water scarcity issues. The study would also include tribal lands and territories.
“Our country’s water future will rely heavily on finding new opportunities to expand and implement managed aquifer recharge programs which is why this study is so vital,” said NGWA CEO Terry S. Morse, CAE, CIC. “I would like to thank the NGWA membership who helped advocate for this provision and those lawmakers who continuously fought for it throughout the process.”
NGWA has been a leader in MAR research. The November-December 2022 issue of its hallmark technical journal, Groundwater®, was a special issue dedicated to MAR. The Association is also hosting a conference titled Managed Aquifer Recharge: Unleashing Resiliency, Protecting Groundwater Quality April 24-25, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas. Learn more about MAR by visiting the resource center NGWA has dedicated to it.