This press release was issued by a creative and hard-working group of Oregonians. We’re honored to be working with them.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2018. Monroe, Oregon.
Concerns about groundwater availability and development pressure in rural South Benton County have spurred local residents to form a community groundwater monitoring network to study local groundwater resources and possibly impact policies governing rural housing development.
At present, the 14- member group called the South Benton Community Groundwater Network (SBCGN), is a “citizen science” project using well-monitoring equipment designed for domestic pumping wells to gather a range of data on groundwater levels and fluctuations – such as static water levels, pumping impact, and well recovery rates after water draw downs. Gathering such data is possible through emerging technologies that monitor wells less invasively and more economically than prior technologies. The new technology enables network members to view fluctuations and seasonal trends of their own well and the whole network in real time. New members are currently being sought to join this voluntary network.
The Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) has actively participated throughout the establishment of the community groundwater network. Through a series of community meetings, the OWRD has helped local residents understand geologic and hydrologic conditions making groundwater scarcity an issue for many of the area’s residents. Meanwhile, the department continues to validate the groundwater data from the new technology, which it began testing locally nearly two years ago.
“When I began to explore the local groundwater issue, I was surprised by how little information is available,” noted SBCGN member George Wisner. “The absence of data has been caused by cumbersome older technology and lack of OWRD manpower. That situation has now changed due to innovations that are becoming more available.”
The number of local failed and low-producing wells resulted in growing concerns for rural South Benton County residents who depend on domestic wells. Rural home owners have few options and little recourse when their domestic wells fail or falter. Residents with concerns about the productivity of their wells need data to provide the basis for water-management decisions.
“My well has so far has never failed and I seem to have plenty of water, but I know that can change,” said SBCGN member Garrick Balsly. “Many neighbors are having severe well productivity challenges.” Balsly installed the new well-monitoring system and joined the South Benton Community Groundwater Network “to protect my property.”
Without data about the current status of his well, Balsly added, “I would be unable to see any trends in water availability. Without data from the community groundwater network, we would be unable to see broader patterns or trends.”
The South Benton Community Groundwater Network is a unique, community-led, citizen science endeavor. Unlike the growing number of groundwater-monitoring networks in the nation, SBCGN has no sponsoring agency and members have each purchased compatible well-monitoring technology that easily enables data sharing.
“We all came together because we saw a need and public resources were not readily available,” noted network member Evelyn Lee. “My well causes me a lot of concern. I know this project will not give me more water, but I believe it as important to see and understand local trends and be aware of local risks. This project makes it possible for the community to view groundwater pumping impacts on neighbors, and to see seasonal variations and impacts on the resource. With understanding, we have the opportunity to make good choices. Without it we have only our concerns and stress.”
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