Paso Robles water wells running dry, trucks delivering water

If you’ve wondered why a private well owner would want or need Wellntel, listen to this story about the region around Paso Robles, California, where the pressure is so severe that family wells are drying up and residents are having to truck in water.

Listen here:


“Wells Run Dry in Paso Robles” from TCRAM 2013-10-30 by KQED Public Radio. Released: 2013. Genre: Public Radio. Read The California Report here.

Wellntel’s first pilot site will be near Paso Robles, starting next month. Wellntel engineers will cooperate with scientists from University of California at Berkeley to build a more accurate model of the current groundwater condition in the area and explore the value of better information in the hands of neighbors participating in the study. Early models, like the one shown below, are starting to be produced.

Wellntel UCB Early Groundwater Model

Wellntel’s groundbreaking groundwater information system will put information about the health or the well and the aquifer in the hands of the folks who need it. Wellntel will make it possible for neighbors to treat water like a bank account: ensuring that withdrawals are covered by deposits.

Dave Garner Will Lead Wellntel’s Technology Team

Dave Garner - Wellntel Technology Team LeaderWe’re excited to introduce a new member of the Wellntel Team. Dave Garner will be taking on the role of Technology Team Leader starting immediately. Dave is an experienced Project Development Engineer with many notable product design and launch accomplishments, including large scale solar and renewable energy systems, I/O modules for building automation, temperature/ pressure controls for refrigeration, solid state overload relays and power monitors. Dave has worked for Rockwell Automation and Johnson Controls and earned his BS in Engineering from MSOE.

Dave has won many merit awards for his solar projects and is a recipient of the Wisconsin Governor’s Innovation Award for his work designing a smart motor controller power supply.

Dave adds considerable engineering horsepower and talent to Wellntel. During his first few weeks here, he will help refine our sensor, power, and communications architectures, witness pilot system deployments in California and other places, work with suppliers and brand and science partners to ensure cost and reliability targets, and will support the commercial launch of Wellntel’s groundbreaking, patent-pending groundwater information system.

You can reach Dave at dagarner@wellntel.com.

Wellntel Featured in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Wellntel Featured in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Wellntel made hometown news last week, with an in-depth feature in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s business section. Business Reporter Kathleen Gallagher worked hard to get the story right, interviewing many members of Team Wellntel, Wellntel investors and scientists at U-C Berkeley.

Since it ran, the phone has rung off the hook with folks wanting to own their own Wellntel. Whodathunk so many Wisconsinites would be concerned with their groundwater?

Read the full article here. (http://www.jsonline.com/business/sensors-put-well-water-data-on-tap-b99101849z1-225128292.html)

Wellntel and UC Berkeley Hydroclimate Group to Make Groundwater More Visible

For Immediate Release — Milwaukee, WI — September, 2013 // 

The Wisconsin water technology firm Wellntel, working with scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, will bring groundwater into view to help make it sustainable. It’s a bold project that will have lasting positive global consequences.

Until recently, ample groundwater seemed like a sure thing. Generally, if you could afford to drill a hole in the ground, you would eventually find clean water to pump to the surface to use for drinking, washing or irrigating. However, groundwater risks created by population growth, pumping and climate change have recently become a major new factor affecting economic prosperity, food supplies and even health and peace.

When groundwater levels change, many people are affected. Homeowners and farmers pay upwards of $1.2B a year in the U.S. to keep water flowing from their wells. Groundwater contractors find it more difficult to locate ample supply of water to support the populations in their regions. Local governments can’t balance permitting with development plans. Financial markets and insurers have started to notice; good credit, bond ratings and insurability can depend on a local groundwater sustainability plan, and very few exist.

Meanwhile, scientists who study groundwater and make recommendations have been frustrated by a lack of information. For example, the only time local groundwater level information is collected is when a well is dug, so it can be old and inaccurate. Sometimes records are not available at all.

For the most part, we’re all guessing about groundwater.

The good news is that groundwater can be treated like a savings account with automatic deposits. Rain and surface water sources naturally replenish groundwater, given enough time and a route. With a little information about what’s happening down there, people who need and care about groundwater can create a budget that lowers their costs, protects property values, balances the needs of neighbors and improves crop production.

Wellntel has developed a technology that makes information about groundwater easy and inexpensive to get. Wellntel sensors continuously measure water level in a well. The information can be collected, charted and used to trigger alarms if something is amiss.

UC Berkeley scientists will work with Wellntel engineers to combine this groundwater information with other related data, like gravity, precipitation and soil moisture, to show correlations and help owners and managers develop groundwater budgets.

The teams will start by connecting Wellntel sensors on a field of wells in a water stressed region and feed the data from these sensors to a groundwater computer model which will interpret changes in greater detail and resolution than has been available before. Well owners participating in the study will be able to privately see, in real time, fluctuations in the water table, their own well’s production and they’ll gain a greater understanding of other influences like rain and pumping.

The lead scientist at UC Berkeley, Dr. Norman Miller, adjunct professor of geography and a co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, is an expert on the hydroclimate, the science of physical factors that impact water and weather. His research focuses on understanding climate, hydrology, and ecology factors on energy and water supply and demand, water quality, agriculture, and impacts to other sectors of society.

The lead researcher, Raj Singh, UC Berkeley PhD candidate in geography. will carry out the numerical simulations and primary data analysis for the project and report on the impact and potential in the new data and will work closely with Wellntel product and website designers.

Wellntel is the brainchild of Marian Singer and Nicholas Hayes, Milwaukee-area business partners and entrepreneurs who have worked together leading research for product development in the water and energy sectors for over a decade. Their work with Fortune 250 clients has produced innovations in manufacturing, chemical, paper, mining and wastewater treatment. Wellntel marks a shift for the team, from exploring markets and coming up with ideas for others, to launching one of their own. It comes on the heels of a year-long research project to understand groundwater globally that took them on a whirl-wind tour of drought-stricken regions of North America, to the water-centric Netherlands, and to India, where more people depend on groundwater than anywhere else in the world.

Key U.S. Statistics:

• Groundwater supplies 50% of drinking supply
• Groundwater supplies 42% of irrigation supply
• Groundwater is stressed: 60% of population lives in a problem area

Wellntel Science

Wellntel Science

 

Wisconsin: not immune to water troubles

In this short film about groundwater stress in central Wisconsin, ex-Department of Natural Resources (DNR) pros and hydro-geologists explain the strong connections between groundwater and surface water and water and the vibrant communities.

Key quotes:

“We’re 50 years without doing the math.”

“Realtors say it’s hard to sell property here”

Not Standing Still: The Degradation of Wisconsin’s Waters [Short Film] from StoryFirst Media on Vimeo.

Nobody wants the groundwater to run out, but lacking facts, limits seem severe

Drought and pumping has New Mexican well owners facing limits on water use from their own private wells, according to an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican. And they don’t like it.

[Residents] are protesting the permanent limits proposed by the State Engineer’s Office on the amount of water they can use from their private wells. They claim their well permits represent a valuable property right, and that the state is trying to take those rights. The state says under the law, the state engineer can reduce water rights unless a well owner can prove they are using more.

And residents have a point and real concerns:

As far as I know, there is no evidence that our wells are impacting anyone,” said a well owner, “I don’t think the government has any accurate or inaccurate water data. They just have statements.”

“If my kids needed to grow a garden, [they would not be able to with these limits] ” said another, “I expect someday, groceries might be expensive, and they could use a garden to supplement their food.”

The state is using models to support their position:

The State Engineer’s Office says water models they use “both show effects on surface water and draw down on the aquifer due to groundwater pumping in the Nambé-Pojoaque-Tesuque [basin].”

It’s as if everyone is guessing.

We’d like to see models and policy agreements supported with holistic groundwater information, actual data and trends, that includes supply (available and recovering) and demand. Clearly, nobody, the state or the well owner, wants the aquifer to run dry.

Groundwater sustainability isn’t possible without facts and transparency. It’s time to stop guessing and find out what’s going on down there. Wellntel can help.

Source: Clyde Mueller/The New Mexican

Well Pump in Nambé. Source: Clyde Mueller/The New Mexican

 

 

Declining Aquifer has Farmers Scrambling

The high plains aquifer is drying up from Texas to Kansas, sending farmers scurrying for alternative, less water-intensive, crops and stocks.

The New York Times explains:

Since the pivot [irrigation systems’] debut some six decades ago, the amount of irrigated cropland in Kansas has grown to nearly three million acres, from a mere 250,000 in 1950. But the pivot irrigators’ thirst for water — hundreds and sometimes thousands of gallons a minute — has sent much of the aquifer on a relentless decline. And while the big pivots have become much more efficient, a University of California study earlier this year concluded that Kansas farmers were using some of their water savings to expand irrigation or grow thirstier crops, not to reduce consumption.

At an average 14 inches per acre in a growing season, a corn crop soaks up groundwater like a sponge — in 2010, the State Agriculture Department said, enough to fill a space a mile square and nearly 2,100 feet high.

The USGS provided the groundwater map of the region for the story.

High Plains Aquifer Levels

Source: NY Times, USGS

Wellntel for Rural Homeowners

Wellntel is mentioned as part of a smart water conservation strategy for rural homeowners in this month’s Acreage Life Magazine. Check it out online, on page 15.

Wellntel in Acreage Life Magazine

Wellntel CEO Marian Singer on WisBusiness: The Show

Wellntel CEO Marian Singer is featured on “WisBusiness: The Show” this week, answering questions about the need, the solution and the impact of better groundwater information. Her interview begins at 4:37.

If you talk with people (homeowners and farmers) in water stressed regions (60% of US), they’ll tell you that groundwater is property value.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaEMG7JU5KA&feature=youtu.be&t=4m37s]

WisBusiness Marian Singer Interview

View on Youtube