Safe yield is commonly defined as the maximum, sustainable, continuous withdrawal that can be made from a water source. Safe yield can be determined for both surface water and groundwater resources. The State of West Virginia further clarifies this definition by stating that:
the protection of aquatic habitats should be a consideration in safe yield calculations,
safe yield defines safety, but provides no indication of risk to the resource, and
safe yield does not consider the cumulative impact of consumptive use.
In its original context with reservoirs, a representative definition of safe yield is “the maximum quantity of water that can be guaranteed from a reservoir during a critical dry period” (Sophocleous, 1998). After the concept was extended to apply to groundwater aquifers, a representative definition is “the attainment and maintenance of a long-term balance between the amount of ground-water withdrawn annually and the annual amount of recharge” (Sophocleous, 1998).
Safe yield is calculated for individual watersheds within Pocahontas County to determine appropriate values for each area. Both surface water and groundwater resources are critical to the overall health and sustainability of the many rivers flowing out of Pocahontas County; because both types of water resources are unique, safe yield is assessed and quantified separately for each water resource.
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