Figuring out how to do that is something that researchers are working on, particularly in places that, unlike New Orleans, are subject both to intense rainfalls and intense periods of drought.
In places along the Texas Gulf Coast, for example, “we have too much water during the floods and not enough water during the drought,” said Qian Yang, a research associate in geology at the University of Texas at Austin.
To help balance out that flow, Dr. Yang looked at a concept known as managed aquifer recharge and studied sites in Texas.
The idea is that because aquifers, or large bodies of permeable rock that contain groundwater, get depleted during droughts, cities should work to refill them during times of significant rainfall. The potential benefit would be to avoid the large capital construction, and large geographic footprint, that comes with building new reservoirs because these aquifers already exist.
For the Houston area, the researchers found that under high flow scenarios they could recharge aquifers with roughly the same amount of water as contained in Lake Mead, a reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam.
But in the case of extreme rain events like Hurricane Harvey and what is expected of a potential Hurricane Barry, “you would need some sort of interim storage because the aquifers can’t take the water in that fast,” said Bridget R. Scanlon, a senior research scientist in geoscience at the University of Texas
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