W. Michigan groundwater quality and quantity troubles

A new study by Michigan State University suggests #groundwater quantity to quality cause and effect:

Principle among the study’s findings: when comparing the average Static Water Level (SWL) for 1966-1999 to the average SWL for 2000 to 2012, there has been a 10 to 12 meter (33 to 40 foot) drop in bedrock groundwater levels, and a 3 to 9 meter (10 to 30 foot) drop in glacial groundwater levels. These are modest, but significant, declines in the SWL.

Also the drop in SWL does not appear to be the result of less rain, since the weather records show there has been more precipitation from 2000 to 2012 than there was 30 years ago.

Some water users have installed deeper wells which extend down into the bedrock Marshall Formation, a thick sandstone. In several areas in central Ottawa County demand for groundwater is high enough that very salty water from deep within the Marshall Formation has been pulled into these wells. The more groundwater is pumped in these areas, the more salty water will move into those wells. This naturally occurring brine water is in the same groundwater resource that chemical and salt companies in Midland, Manistee, and Ludington use to extract various chemicals and salts.

Continuing to pump out more groundwater than is being replenished is not sustainable over the long term, [the author] David Lusch cautions. Lusch indicated there will need to be more study to know how much longer the community can continue to pump groundwater at a rate faster than it is replenished.

via Ottawa County groundwater has quality and quantity concerns | MSU Extension.

Lorca earthquake caused by groundwater extraction – BBC

Scientists studying the fault beneath the Spanish city of Lorca say that groundwater removal may be implicated in a deadly 2011 earthquake there.

They report in Nature Geoscience that those shifts correlate with locations where water has been drained for years.

The study highlights how human activity such as drainage or borehole drilling can have far-reaching seismic effects.

Earthquake in Lorca Spain

via BBC News – Lorca earthquake caused by groundwater extraction.

Groundwater scientist: we need groundwater awareness

Bridget Scanlon, groundwater expert and scientist, says it succinctly:

I think it’s important that people understand how much water they use and where it’s coming from, and how scarce it is in that region.

We wholeheartedly agree. It’s what Wellntel is designed to do.

But she also does a nice job explaining why in this interview at Earthsky: http://earthsky.org/human-world/bridget-scanlon-on-the-accelerating-depletion-of-groundwater-worldwide.

Note: Ms. Scanlon is in Austin, Texas, which depends on the 10,000 year old High Plains aquifer, a slow to renew water source that is under pressure from unsafe yield.

Monitoring the High Plains Aquifer

Scientists like Bridget Scanlon monitor the High Plains Aquifer

Groundwater licensing likely coming to B.C.

Currently, anyone [in British Columbia Canada] can drill a well and begin to draw from underground aquifers without charge, even though no one can draw water from a creek or lake without a permit from the provincial government, and regular fee payments. Seven policies have been identified as part of the framework of new groundwater regulations, including;

    • protect stream health and aquatic environments
    • consider water in land-use decisions
    • regulate groundwater use
    • regulate during scarcity;improve security, water use efficiency and conservation
    • measure and report
    • enable a range of governance approaches

via Kelowna Capital News – Groundwater licensing likely to be included in a new water act.

Pike County Conservation District tracking #groundwater, sharing data

Credit: The River Reporter by Sandy Long

Photo Credit: The River Reporter by Sandy Long

‘The longer the record you have, the more powerful the data becomes,’ said Lisa Senior of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Pennsylvania Water Science Center in Exton. Senior was updating members of the Pike County Conservation District (PCCD) board of directors on the Pike County Groundwater Level Network established in 2007.

‘Groundwater is the main source of water supply in Pike County and is the major source supply for streams,’ Senior explained. The county-wide network monitors 24 wells, ranging in depth from 24 feet to 425 feet to assess the natural fluctuations of the water table.

The long-term data can be used for a number of applications, such as understanding seasonal changes, effects of climatic changes and potential impacts of water use upon groundwater levels and stream flow. It can also help to determine drought triggers, evaluate changes in groundwater storage, understand water budgets and estimate stream base flow.

PCCD staff currently make the measurements and send the raw data to USGS, which reviews it and enters it into databases for public distribution and long-term storage. USGS maintains a page called Groundwater Watch for observation wells across the country, including those in Pike County. The data is served up real-time, is available to the public for perpetuity and can be downloaded and used freely.

For Pike County, having this online data storage and display allows anyone to get access almost as soon as it comes in. Only five counties have such a network. In Southeast Pennsylvania, Chester County uses its network for drought assessment http://pa.water.usgs.gov/projects/assessments/chesco/ground_water.php.

PCCD well data at USGS

PCCD well data at USGS

In terms of water conservation, the data can be used to address concerns about over-withdrawal of wells because of pumping in the area or because of drought. ‘If you have an ungauged stream and need to estimate what kind of stream flow you have, the groundwater levels should tell you, which may affect all kinds of things in terms of habitat,’ said Senior. ‘Withdrawals from groundwater can affect how a stream discharges.’

Read more at Pike well study sets important baseline | The River Reporter.

Groundwater as seen from space

Ninety-nine percent of Earth’s liquid freshwater supply sits in the ground beneath our feet, where it fills the spaces between grains in the soil and the small holes in porous rocks. In other words, 99% of the planet’s liquid freshwater supply is invisible to us, which is part of the reason most of us don’t notice that it’s disappearing.

But over the past decade, thanks to a pair of satellites orbiting 300 miles above Earth’s surface, researchers have been keeping tabs on the seasonal ups-and-downs in groundwater stores all over the world, and tracking longer-term trends like the depletion of the Ogalalla aquifer under the southwestern U.S.

This year, a few designers took the data from the GRACE satellites’ gravity measurements and created some stunning visualizations that allow us to see, for the first time, the resource we rely on most.

Drought and surplus is visible in this graphic

via Daily Infographic: What Earth’s Swirling Groundwater Looks Like From Outerspace | Popular Science.

We’ll soon pay dearly for safe-yield inaction

A forward-thinking Arizonan makes a strong case for the safe yield of Del Rio Springs #groundwater:

Although it’s easy to overlook this slowly unfolding disaster, we should instead recognize that we can solve this problem and comfortably coexist with living springs and rivers. The drying of Del Rio Springs is a clear and present reminder that, unless we better manage our groundwater resources and consume less water, unless we develop a sustainable water supply, unless we care for our water-dependent natural resources, we and our children will all suffer the loss.

via Talk of the Town: We’ll soon pay dearly for safe-yield inaction – The Prescott Daily Courier – Prescott, Arizona.

Why are we losing our groundwater?

This video is a but long, but highly informative if you care about water. It explains groundwater sources, uses, and how groundwater information will be vital to a sustainable future.

The biggest issue the cities have is knowledge. They don’t have an understand of what the significance and magnitude of the [groundwater] problem is. Many cities are close to some type of catastrophic failure. – Executive, Columbia Basin Ground Water Management Association

It’s not just cities. It’s farmers, homeowners and businesses. Our mission at Wellntel is to close the knowledge gap.