Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) involves injecting water into an aquifer through wells or by surface spreading and infiltration and then pumping it out when needed. The aquifer essentially functions as a water bank. Deposits are made in times of surplus, typically during the rainy season, and withdrawals occur when available water falls short of demand.
In the 2000 session, the Washington State Legislature passed Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 2867, which expanded the definition of "reservoir" in RCW 90.03.370 ("Reservoir permits...") to include, "any naturally occurring underground geological formation where water is collected and stored for subsequent use as part of an underground artificial storage and recovery project".
This legislation allows to Ecology to issue reservoir permits to authorize ASR projects. Previously, reservoir permits were only for surface water impoundment projects.
The rule, Chapter 173-157 WAC - Underground Artificial Storage and Recovery, establishes standards for review of ASR proposals and mitigation of any adverse impacts in the following areas:
Some recognized benefits of Aquifer Storage and Recovery are:
In the 2002 legislative session, Engrossed House Bill 2993 simplified the application process for an ASR project by specifying that Ecology "may accept for processing a single application form covering both a proposed reservoir and a proposed secondary permit or permits for use of water from that reservoir."
Following are the basic steps involved in permitting an ASR project:
- Water rights for the source waters for the proposed ASR project.
- A general description of the physical design of the hydrogeologic system prepared by an engineer or geologist registered in the state of Washington.
- A general description of the operational design of the hydrogeologic system prepared by an engineer or geologist registered in the state of Washington.
- A project plan.
- A data monitoring plan.
An environmental assessment and analysis of any potential adverse conditions or potential impacts to the surrounding environment, limited to storage and subsequent use of stored water, that might result from the project.
Water to be stored in an aquifer as part of an ASR project must meet water quality standards for ground waters of the state of Washington (Ch. 173-200 WAC). Additionally, injection wells for an ASR project must be registered with Ecology in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 90.48 RCW (Water Pollution Control Act) and Chapter 173-218 WAC (Underground Injection Control Program). For more information on the Underground Injection Control program, please see the UIC Web site.
Rule and Technical Questions:
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