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Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR)

The statutes for Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) were enacted through passage of HB 3183 (1995).  ASR statutes and rules provide a legal framework for water users to store water underground during times of low demand and then recover it through wells during high demand periods.  Most projects use existing water rights as a source of water for underground storage.  Initially, an ASR limited license is issued for limited duration injection and recovery testing.  The ASR limited license facilitates storage and recovery without altering the underlying source water right.  That means that the use of any recovered water must be for the same beneficial use as the right under which the water was originally diverted.  Extensive water quality and water quantity monitoring and reporting is part of all projects.  An ASR permit is available for permanent authorization of an ASR project.  Project operators apply for a permit after testing through the ASR limited license program.  An ASR permit authorizes storage and recovery up to a maximum rate and volume, and it does not expire.

The Department evaluates an application for ASR authorization for the proposed project’s potential effects on the groundwater resource and other water users.  ASR rules require the Department to consider the appropriate target storage volume, loss of stored ASR water and natural water by virtue of ASR activities, water quality changes due to ASR activities, well construction sufficiency for ASR purposes, water-level effects to the ASR wells, aquifer, springs and nearby wells, accounting of ASR inputs, withdrawals, and storage, and monitoring needs.  Water quality issues are addressed through coordination with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Oregon Health Authority’s Drinking Water Services.   An ASR limited license or permit may be modified or revoked if injurious effects are identified after the project is in operation.

Program Implementation

ASR projects have been operating in Oregon since 1996, with more than 2 billion gallons stored in aquifers annually. There are municipal, nursery and irrigation systems utilizing ASR to meet changing needs.