Recharge areas are those areas that provide the primary means of replenishing groundwater. Good natural recharge areas are those where good quality surface water is able to percolate through the sediments and rocks to the saturated zone which contains groundwater. If recharge areas cease to function properly, it will limit groundwater replenishment and/or groundwater quality for storage or use. Protection of recharge areas requires a number of actions based on two primary goals: (1) ensuring that areas suitable for recharge continue to be capable of adequate recharge rather than being covered by urban infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, and (2) preventing pollutants from entering groundwater to avoid expensive treatment that may be necessary prior to beneficial use.
Protection of recharge areas is necessary to maintain the quantity and quality of groundwater in the aquifer. However, protecting recharge areas by itself does not provide a supply of water. Recharge areas are functioning properly when aquifer storage capacity is available, sufficient permeable surface is present, and the adequate supply of good quality water to recharge the aquifer is available. Protecting existing and potential recharge areas allows them to serve as valuable components of a conjunctive management and groundwater strategy.