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Global Change Impacts to Groundwater Contaminants in California

Christopher Olivares Martinez, UC Irvine

Groundwater is a vital part of California’s water portfolio that needs to be protected from Climate Change Impacts. Wildfires, intense storm/drought cycles, floods, and sea level rise threaten not only groundwater quantity, but also quality. These climate-change events can mobilize contaminants beyond their current impacted areas and reduce the efficacy of remediation strategies. However, there is currently no consolidated information on groundwater contamination and climate change impacts that would allow a clear identification of vulnerable water resources. The goal of the proposed project is to identify locations of groundwater and types of contaminants at risk of mobilization through Global Change events. We propose to leverage publicly available datasets on groundwater quality and climate-change impacts in California to determine correlations with groundwater contaminants. We will merge groundwater quality monitoring datasets with data in Cal Adapt (https://cal-adapt.org/), a collaborative initiative hosting peer-reviewed historical data and projections of climate change impacts, to identify groundwater contamination hotspots with extreme weather impacts (wildfire, sea level rise/coastal floods, drought). The anticipated results of this work include locations of groundwater contamination and risk levels of global change impacts, which will be communicated with stakeholders and water officials. The benefits of this work include the first integrated datasets and geospatial visualizations of climate change impacts and groundwater contaminants. Our findings can lead to a framework for identifying priority areas and climate-change resilient remediation technologies focused on environmental pollution and climate change compounded effects across California.