Peter Nico has co-authored a new working paper outlining how groundwater management activities can affect not only the quantity but also the quality of groundwater with a team of water-quality experts led by the Environmental Defense Fund. Nico is an environmental biogeochemist and program domain lead for Berkeley Lab’s Resilient Energy, Water and Infrastructure Program.
The paper is intended to help groundwater managers avoid inadvertently contaminating water supplies as they change management practices to comply with California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). It focuses on natural contaminants such as arsenic, chromium, and uranium, as well as contaminants that can pose a threat to human and ecosystem health, such as polyfluroalkyl substances.
Signed into law five years ago, SGMA requires local leaders to balance groundwater demand and supplies for the first time.
“Berkeley Lab established its deep expertise in the geochemistry of contamination on Department of Energy sites, but all of this knowledge can apply to groundwater contamination too,” said Nico. “My co-authors and I believe that if groundwater managers plan new projects in a holistic way that considers water quality in addition to water supply, they will be able to avoid contamination and in some cases even improve quality and increase quantity at the same time.”