Groundwater and return flows

Groundwater and return flows

Only part of the water in an irrigation ditch is consumed by growing plants. The rest seeps into the ground surrounding the ditch, or flows out the bottom end of an irrigated field into a borrow ditch. It then percolates down into the groundwater system, and slowly (in feet per day) makes its way back to the creek. This returning water is called the Return Flow.

Our Water Commissioner counts on return flows through the groundwater system to put water back into the creek for other downstream users.

The phenomenon of return flows explains how a drop of water can be used many times before it leaves our District. It also explains how our Water Commissioner can expand a 10cfs flow in Boulder Creek into a 15cfs net yield to water users.

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