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Ground Water Recharge Using Waters of Impaired Quality
artificial recharge operations can have significant environmental impacts, it is important that regulatory processes be designed so as to ensure that there is adequate assessment, evaluation, and review of the environmental impacts of artificial recharge projects.
In the absence of federal leadership, states will be compelled to develop standards and regulatory schemes independently. Although the needs, economies, and opportunities of states vary widely and thus state-level leadership and flexibility of approach is important, many states lack the resources to develop adequate regulation and guidance. Moreover, the development of 50 independent sets of standards is inefficient and is unlikely to result in optimal development of artificial recharge operations nationwide. The federal government has the capability to provide technical assistance to the states and help develop model statutes and guidelines to assist the states in developing their own policies. As more experience is gained with the regulatory aspects of recharge, the partition of responsibilities between the national and state governments should be reexamined.
As a first step in developing institutional arrangements that will foster artificial recharge as a means of augmenting water supplies, states should move to clarify legal rights to source waters and recovered waters for artificial recharge operations.
In addition to ensuring the protection of public health related to the consumption of recovered water, when developing regulatory policies states should make explicit provision for the evaluation of project sustainability and environmental impacts of artificial recharge projects.
Regulatory processes should ensure that environmental impacts and other third party effects are adequately accounted for in the design and operation of artificial recharge projects.
The federal government should assume leadership in supporting the development of artificial recharge with municipal wastewater and other suitable impaired-quality water sources by providing technical assistance to the states and by developing model statutes and guidelines.