Melissa Rohde

Groundwater Scientist
Freshwater
[email protected]

Melissa provides scientific leadership to the Groundwater Program of The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter using her expertise in biology, hydrology, and water policy to advance sustainable groundwater management. Her research focuses on understanding how Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems function and what conditions are necessary to maintain ecosystem health. Her research is being used to advise policy and management of Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014.

Prior to working at the Conservancy, Melissa conducted research with the Water in the West program at Stanford University on the costs and benefits associated with groundwater recharge and storage projects in California. She has more than 15 years of international research experience ranging across the fields of paleoclimatology, biogeochemistry, and hydrogeology. She holds an M.S. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University and an M.S. in Water Science, Policy and Management from Oxford University. In addition to her research, Melissa is an avid educator, having led research expeditions in the Himalayas, Arctic and rural India. You can follow Melissa’s musings on water, climate change, and the environment on her blog: www.reflectionsonwater.org.

What Melissa is working on now:

I’m currently providing guidance to local and state agencies on how to protect groundwater dependent ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. In addition, I am researching how practitioners can monitor the health of groundwater dependent ecosystems so that appropriate thresholds and management actions can be established.


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2018 | Freshwater | Science | Microsite

Groundwater Resource Hub

Sandi Matsumoto, Gregg Werner, Melissa Rohde, Kirk Klausmeyer

Groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) are plant and animal communities that require groundwater to meet some or all of their water needs. GDEs provide important benefits to California including habitat for animals, water supply, water purification, flood mitigation, erosion control, recreational opportunities and enjoyment of California’s…


2018 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act: Guidance for Preparing Groundwater Sustainability Plans

Rohde, M.M., S. Matsumoto, J. Howard, S. Liu, L. Riege, E.J. Remson

California's Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) of 2014 is landmark legislation that empowers local agencies, known as groundwater sustainability agencies, to sustainably manage groundwater resources for social, economic and environmental benefits. SGMA also includes specific requirements to identify and consider impacts to groundwater dependent ecosystems


2017 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A Global Synthesis of Managing Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Under Sustainable Groundwater Policy

Melissa M. Rohde, Ray Froend, Jeanette Howard

Groundwater is a vital water supply worldwide for people and nature. However, species and ecosystems that depend on groundwater for some or all of their water needs, known as groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), are increasingly becoming threatened worldwide. This paper provides an overview of how…




2016 | Freshwater | Science | Publications & Reports

Benefits and Economic Costs of Managed Aquifer Recharge in California

Debra Perrone, Melissa M. Rohde

Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) projects can play an important role in ensuring California manages its groundwater sustainably. This study, the first to investigate the benefits and economic costs of MAR projects in the state, found California MAR projects to be a cost-effective storage strategy, exhibit a…


2016 | Freshwater | Maps & Webmaps

How and Where Nature Uses Groundwater

Kirk Klausmeyer, Jeanette Howard, Sandi Matsumoto, Sally Liu, Melissa Rohde

Groundwater is essential to the health and viability of plants, animals and ecosystems. Many tree species, like willows and cottonwoods, rely on groundwater to survive seasonal and annual dry spells. Fish and other aquatic life need groundwater to keep rivers flowing. When unsustainable management causes groundwater levels…