Streamflow Depletion Caused by Groundwater Pumping: Fundamental Research Priorities for Management-Relevant Science


Reductions in streamflow caused by groundwater pumping, known as streamflow depletion, link the hydrologic process of stream-aquifer interactions to human modifications of the water cycle. Isolating the impacts of groundwater pumping on streamflow is challenging because other climate and human activities concurrently impact streamflow, making it difficult to separate individual drivers of hydrologic change. In addition, there can be lags between when pumping occurs and when streamflow is affected. However, accurate quantification of streamflow depletion is critical to integrated groundwater and surface water management decision making. Here, we highlight research priorities to help advance fundamental hydrologic science and better serve the decision-making process. Key priorities include (a) linking streamflow depletion to decision-relevant outcomes such as ecosystem function and water users to align with partner needs; (b) enhancing partner trust and applicability of streamflow depletion methods through benchmarking and coupled model development; and (c) improving links between streamflow depletion quantification and decision-making processes. Catalyzing research efforts around the common goal of enhancing our streamflow depletion decision-support capabilities will require disciplinary advances within the water science community and a commitment to transdisciplinary collaboration with diverse water-connected disciplines, professions, governments, organizations, and communities.

Water Resources Research
Sam Zipper
HEAL PI; Assistant Scientist/Professor

I specialize in ecohydrology and hydrogeology of agricultural and urban landscapes.