Artificial Groundwater Recharge (AR) statutes were adopted in 1961. AR statutes and rules provide a process for appropriating water when it is available and then storing it underground by injection through wells or infiltration at the land surface. A secondary groundwater authorization allows a project to recover the stored water through wells and put it to a beneficial use. Initially, a short-term limited license for AR testing is issued. It may be paired with a limited license for AR recovery testing. Extensive water quality and water quantity monitoring and reporting is part of all projects. Once a project has demonstrated its effects on groundwater quantity and quality, AR permits and certificates are available for permanent authorization of a project.
When processing applications for AR, the Department evaluates the availability of water for storage, the potential for stored water to remain within the influence of recovery wells, the sufficiency of proposed monitoring plans, and potential injurious effects of the project. An authorization for artificial recharge from a stream source may only be issued if a minimum streamflow or instream water right has been established for the stream or the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife agrees to waive the requirement. Water quality issues are addressed in coordination with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
AR projects have been operating in Oregon since 1976, with more than 3 billion gallons stored annually. There are quasi-municipal, irrigation, industrial, and watershed council projects using AR. Some artificial groundwater recharge projects augment aquifers to increase groundwater supply to wells. Other AR projects filter surface water before injecting into a deep aquifer under ASR, dilute shallow groundwater to improve water quality, or allow stored water to discharge to streams for temperature or flow benefits.