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Groundwater Hydrology

The Groundwater Hydrology website provides educational, scientific and technical information about groundwater resources and groundwater quality in rural California. The site also serves as a gateway to groundwater information from a variety of sources on the Web.

Director of the UC Davis Cooperative Extension groundwater hydrology program, Thomas Harter, said many of California's rural communities and farming areas face continued overdraft of their groundwater resources resulting in subsidence, increased economic cost and questionable future resource reliability. Nonpoint source pollution of groundwater from agricultural chemicals is widespread and threatens more drinking water wells in the state of California than pollution from industrial and municipal sources.

Lack of data, lack of adequate understanding of hydrogeologic settings, and lack of geologic, physical and chemical process understanding make it difficult for the water resource industry, agricultural industry, and regulatory and planning agencies to effectively address these issues.

The Groundwater Hydrology Program was created in 1996 to provide expertise, support and education in groundwater hydrology to those who manage, plan, and use California's groundwater resources. Harter devotes 40 percent of his time to Cooperative Extension activities, such as community group presentations, seminars and workshops, and publication of groundwater information for professionals and citizens in the state of California.

Another aspect of the program is research. The integrated basic and applied research program deals with some of the most urgent groundwater issues in California's rural areas. Research efforts are divided into three groups:

  • Application of state-of-the-art groundwater modeling and geographic information system tools to groundwater management in rural areas
  • Field investigations of hydrogeologic properties and groundwater contaminant transport
  • Theoretical analysis of the fate of pollutants in highly complex geologic systems