the ultimate uses to which recharge water is put should be equal to or greater than this cost. The temptation to subsidize recharge operations in order to ensure that the water will be used or to make its price more attractive should be resisted. Subsidies result in distorted water allocation and inefficiencies in use.


  • The price of recovered water should reflect the true cost of making the water available to ensure that the water is used efficiently. The costs of recharge operations should not be subsidized to make this water source more attractive than it would otherwise be.


The development of institutional arrangements governing artificial recharge is critical in determining the extent to which water supplies will ultimately be available from recharge with waters of impaired quality. The institutions need to be capable of formulating policies to protect public health and environmental amenities while not imposing inappropriate or inefficient controls on this potentially important form of water resource management. Federal leadership is needed if the full promise of artificial ground water recharge is to be realized.

The feasibility of artificial recharge could be improved by appropriate institutional arrangements to govern and regulate the recharge of impaired quality water and the uses of recovered water. If the regulatory process is itself uncertain, there will be general underinvestment in recharge facilities. Underinvestment will also result from processes that are too conservative. Processes that fail to account adequately for public health and welfare concerns and impacts on the environment are also likely to result in the imposition of unnecessary social costs.

Artificial recharge of ground water will clearly be impeded where title to the recovered water is unclear or undefined. Similarly, clear legal rights to source waters will be required if recharge is to occur. Although institutional arrangements may need to be flexible and may vary from situation to situation, a significant first step to establishing an institutional environment that will foster recharge will be to ensure that these rights are clearly defined. This task will virtually always fall to the states.

Interests in environmental amenities and the benefits they provide are widely distributed and diffuse. Often, no one individual or group has enough stake in the preservation of environmental amenities to permit or motivate it to intervene in the regulatory process. The National Environmental Policy Act applies only to federal activities, and not all states have comparable statutes. Inasmuch as

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement