DWR aquifer surveys will help bolster groundwater supply

DWR aquifer surveys will help bolster groundwater supply

For the past year, California’s Department of Water Resources has been taking measurements of aquifers in central and southern parts of the state. The same will be done for the Sacramento Valley over the next several weeks.This project, which is known as an Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) Survey, is a direct result of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which calls for local and state water agencies to work together to better understand and manage groundwater supply.AEM surveys are taken using a helicopter that carries a special set of instruments suspended on a large ring below the aircraft, shown below. Those instruments take readings on the electromagnetic properties of materials below ground. Scientists with DWR can then use that information to better understand the different sub-surface layers.”Defining these different layers of the aquifer help them to better understand the thickness of the aquifer itself, which can help them estimate how much water is there,” said Katherine Dlubac, an engineering geologist with DWR.Information from AEM surveys can also help water managers pinpoint ideal locations for groundwater aquifer recharging.“As we better understand the distribution of sands and gravels and silts and clays we can better understand where there’s a connection between the surface of the Earth and their aquifer in the subsurface where the majority of the water is stored,” Dlubac said.All of this information is vital as more than 250 local water agencies work to develop and improve groundwater management plans. to build up a stable groundwater supply to make California more resilient during times of drought.In dry years, the state relies much more on groundwater as opposed to surface water, which is more abundant in rainy and snowy weather patterns. management of the state’s groundwater supply led to a serious depletion of those groundwater aquifers. in 2014, was a major step in preventing that kind of depletion from happening again.Dlubac said some Central Coast water agencies have already begun using AEM survey data to develop and improve their groundwater management plans. The goal is for all water management teams in the Central Valley to have access to the same data. The helicopter used for AEM surveys will be flying over parts of the Sacramento Valley over the next few weeks, starting near Sacramento and heading north to Redding. Data will become publicly available within six to 12 months of the surveys.

For the past year, California’s Department of Water Resources has been taking measurements of aquifers in central and southern parts of the state. The same will be done for the Sacramento Valley over the next several weeks.

This project, which is known as an Airborne Electromagnetic (AEM) Survey, is a direct result of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which calls for local and state water agencies to work together to better understand and manage groundwater supply.

AEM surveys are taken using a helicopter that carries a special set of instruments suspended on a large ring below the aircraft, shown below.

Hearst OwnedDepartment of Water Resources

DWR is conducting Airborne Electromagnetic Surveys using a helicopter that carries a suite of instruments attached to a large ring. The aircraft flies at a height of about 200 feet.

Those instruments take readings on the electromagnetic properties of materials below ground. Scientists with DWR can then use that information to better understand the different sub-surface layers.

“Defining these different layers of the aquifer help them to better understand the thickness of the aquifer itself, which can help them estimate how much water is there,” said Dr. Katherine Dlubac, an engineering geologist with DWR.

Information from AEM surveys can also help water managers pinpoint ideal locations for groundwater aquifer recharging.

“As we better understand the distribution of sands and gravels and silts and clays we can better understand where there’s a connection between the surface of the Earth and their aquifer in the subsurface where the majority of the water is stored,” Dlubac said.

All of this information is vital as more than 250 local water agencies work to develop and improve groundwater management plans. The ultimate goal is to build up a stable groundwater supply to make California more resilient during times of drought. In dry years, the state relies much more on groundwater as opposed to surface water, which is more abundant in rainy and snowy weather patterns.

In the past, improper management of the state’s groundwater supply led to a serious depletion of those groundwater aquifers. The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, passed in 2014, was a major step in preventing that kind of depletion from happening again.

Dlubac said some Central Coast water agencies have already begun using AEM survey data to develop and improve their groundwater management plans. The goal is for all water management teams in the Central Valley to have access to the same data.

The helicopter used for AEM surveys will be flying over parts of the Sacramento Valley over the next few weeks, starting near Sacramento and heading north to Redding. Data will become publicly available within six to 12 months of the surveys.

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