AQUIFER STORAGE AND RECOVERY
Recently, an Oregon water supply system needing to expand their storage capacity by at least a million gallons retained Buffalo Geological to advise on an aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) system as an alternative to construction of a steel above-ground storage tank. Buffalo's investigation quickly focused on the anomalous nature of an unproductive water supply well. This well exhibited high deliverability but extremely low recharge and was thought unusable. Buffalo Geological evaluated the well installation and completion details, compiled the known local geologic and hydrogeologic information and reviewed the historic pumping and recharge data. We came to the conclusion that the well provided the key to vast underground storage potential. Information suggests the well taps a network of high porosity fractures within, but isolated from, the regional basalt aquifer. Buffalo Geological prepared the supporting geological documentation and findings required for the issuance of an ASR Limited License. The project is approved and is in cycle testing.
ASR projects have acquired a reputation for being very expensive. The use of underground storage for drinking water is relatively new in the United States and generally only larger water systems have attempted ASR projects. Some estimates are that it takes a minimum of a half million dollars to complete any sized ASR project. Consequently, many small and medium water supply systems who may benefit from underground storage have avoided ASR due to cost concerns.
Because an ASR project involves changes to a natural resource, regulatory requirements may make or break a project. Buffalo Geological's approach is to identify, as early as possible, how the requirements of the licensing agency will affect total project costs. Whether it is financially feasible for a water system to utilize underground storage depends upon the size of the contemplated project multiplied by the demands posed by regulatory agencies.