Rochester is projected to experience population growth of over 40 percent by 2040. Currently, the city’s water supply is sourced entirely from groundwater with the majority coming from two aquifers.
In 2013, Rochester Public Utilities hired Barr to evaluate the long-term sustainability of the aquifers serving the city's drinking water system to help ensure that future water demand can be met in a sustainable manner. To be considered “sustainable,” a proposed groundwater use must not adversely affect the aquifer's long-term supply, harm ecosystems, or degrade the aquifer's water quality. The proposed use also must ensure that the aquifer maintains a water level accessible to existing wells.
The area of most concern is the potential impact of future pumping on stream flows and calcareous fens in the Rochester area. Barr conducted groundwater modeling to evaluate the potential impacts of proposed future pumping, field studies to fill data gaps, and an evaluation of potential new well sites. We also participated in regular meetings with state regulators to ensure all parties are working together to address potential issues related to Rochester’s water source sustainability, and evaluated alternative water sources.
Barr is identifying data gaps associated with deeper aquifers in the area and will refine and improve the groundwater model as those gaps are filled and new data is obtained. The model will help assess potential impacts to streams and fens, assist RPU in selecting locations for new wells, and help minimize the wells’ potential impacts to the ecosystem. Barr and RPU continue to meet periodically with state regulators.