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Sustainable Groundwater Management in the Arid Southwestern US: Coachella Valley, California


Sustainable groundwater management requires approaches to assess the influence of climate and management actions on the evolution of groundwater systems. Traditional approaches that apply continuity to assess groundwater sustainability fail to capture the spatial variability of aquifer responses. To address this gap, our study evaluates groundwater elevation data from the Coachella Valley, California, within a groundwater sustainability framework given the adoption of integrative management strategies in the valley. Our study details an innovative approach employing traditional statistical methods to improve understanding of aquifer responses. In this analysis, we evaluate trends at individual groundwater observation wells and regional groundwater behaviors using field significance. Regional elevation trends identified no significant trends during periods of intense groundwater replenishment, active since 1973, despite spatial variability in individual well trends. Our results illustrate the spatially limited effects of groundwater replenishment occur against a setting of long-term groundwater depletion, raising concerns over the definition of sustainable groundwater management in aquifer systems employing integrative management strategies.

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