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What Drives Cities to Adopt Groundwater Banking? A Cross-Case Analysis of U.S. Cities
AuthorBartels, Lauren Victoria
AdvisorKoebele, Elizabeth A
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As climate change continues to increase the variability and decrease the reliability of water supplies, urban water utilities must adopt and implement innovative strategies to enhance water security and promote system sustainability. Groundwater banking (GWB), which includes managed aquifer recharge and in lieu recharge methods, is becoming an increasingly popular water management strategy in response to these challenges. Consequently, there is a growing need to better understand the factors that influence GWB adoption in cities where appropriate hydrogeology exists. Using a comparative case study design, this research investigates 16 large-scale urban water systems in the United States to assess various drivers of and barriers to GWB. Qualitative Comparative Analysis, supplemented with interview data, is used to determine configurations of conditions that promote, or hinder, GWB adoption. Results suggest that combinations of environmental and legal conditions are necessary for GWB adoption but need to coincide with favorable policy, economic, social, and/or technical conditions. However, no single combination of conditions was a consistent driver of GWB across the cases studied. The results further indicate that the barriers to GWB may be more consistent across cases than the drivers of GWB. While there may be several potential barriers to GWB adoption, such as a lack of legal protections for stored water, water utilities with access to financial and technical resources have been able to overcome barriers. As water systems become increasingly stressed, these findings can help identify other cities that may benefit fromGWB and highlight adoption pathways for innovative water management strategies that promote sustainable water management.