2/05/15 Chamber General Meeting
Our Featured Speaker Sara Chudnoff, P.G., County Hydrogeologist of Bernalillo County Public Works will talk about the Bernalillo County Groundwater Monitoring Program
-What the program entails/How the work is done
-What we have found so far
County Groundwater Level Program
To begin with, the Counties Groundwater Monitoring Program is a success because of all of you! The County program has grown from 26 residential wells in 2011 to roughly 180 (active) wells today, and without all of your participation and trust in the County this would not be possible. We are so appreciative to work with such great people and such a great community, your support, questions, feedback and kind words that you share with myself, the Commissioner and other County employees is wonderful, and keeps this program moving.
A little side note-In addition to the 180ish residential wells we have about 50 county owned wells that are also monitored quarterly.
I get a lot of questions and requests regarding the data that is being collected; such as what "my" data means, how does my well compare to others in the area, it's been raining a lot-why haven't I seen that in my water level, etc. So with that I wanted to give a quick synopsis of where the program is going to help answer all of these questions and most importantly educate ourselves and others on what is going on with the groundwater resources of Bernalillo County.
*First thing to throw out there-The geology and hydrology of the East Mountain area is VERY COMPLEX-which makes the work the County is undertaking that much more difficult and longer to complete.
*Just some general terminology to help better understand what I am going to discuss below
- Water Level-the measurement from the ground surface to the top of the aquifer
- Static Water Level-water elevation prior to stresses being placed on the aquifer (i.e. what the water level would be in a well with no pumping, or a well that has not been pumped for some time (varies based on aquifer type)
- Pumping Water Level-the water level in a pumping well that has reached steady state
- Draw-Down Water Level-the decline of a water level upon commencing pumping
- Recovery Water Level-the water level after pumping has ended and the aquifer begins to recharge
*First off let's talk water levels. Most of the wells I measure are domestic wells, which means the water level taken from that well may not be reflective of the static water level. If your well is in an area where the aquifer slowly recharges then even if you have not been using water for a few days the measurement I take may still represent a recovery water level. However as we collect data over the long term we can look at the trend and determine if the decreases/increases in the water levels are from use/seasonal/depletion of aquifer/nearby users.
*Data-We now have over 1,400 hand measurements as well as thousands of continuous measurements (measurements that are taken every 4 to 6 hours with a transducer). All the monitoring points are in a GIS file, and what I hope to get published in the next few months is a series of maps showing drawdown of the aquifer to help us all see what portions of the East Mountain area are experiencing the most drastic water declines, what portions are experiencing none too little water level declines and what areas are experiencing rebounding of water levels, and how your well compares with others in the area. This will also potentially help us determine what portions of the aquifer are the fastest rebounding...which brings us to the next point recharge.
*In 2004 USGS published a report in cooperation with BC (Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5189), for a portion of the scope of work groundwater samples were taken to determine groundwater age from 9 wells and one (1) spring. The groundwater age of the samples ranged from 10 to 26 years; which means that good snow pack we had in 2006 may take a while to work its way down and recharge the aquifer. Upon completing the water level drawdown/rebound maps we hope to potentially identify areas most drastically effected (increase and decrease), and take groundwater samples to determine groundwater age to follow up on the 2004 study.
*New Stuff-Public Portal. We are working on getting a public portal together that will allow interested parties to get onto the county website and look at and download the water level information we are collecting. We will be restricting the zoom-in on the portal to ensure that all participants stay anonymous, and the I exact location of the well where we are getting measurements from is not shown-if you have any questions/concerns about this please feel free to contact me!
Here is a link for the State of NC to help you get an idea of what we are putting together; http://ncwater.org/?page=343.
- New Stuff-This last May at the National Groundwater Association Groundwater Summit the County along with the Office of the State Engineer and the New Mexico Bureau of Geology met with some folks from the National Ground-Water Monitoring Network Subcommittee on Groundwater to talk about their monitoring network and becoming involved. We are currently working with the subcommittee on getting some select monitoring points within the County into the network, we'll be sure to share that information with y'all once it happens and can be accessed on the site (http://cida.usgs.gov/ngwmn/splash.jsp).
- Well drilling-We recently completed a 1,300 foot monitoring well to monitor water levels in the San Andreas/Glorieta Formation. We will be installing 3 other monitoring wells to monitor the Chinle Formation. We expect to start one of those wells early next year. We are trying to gain a better understanding of communication between the Chinle and San Andreas/Glorieta Formation, as well as communication throughout the Chinle Formation.
- USGS-We are still working through cooperative funding with USGS, they are currently undertaking an evaluation of regional evapotranspiration. I don't yet know when the finding will be published, but I will let y'all know when they are. I will also be working on linking all USGS reports that have been completed in conjunction with the County to the Counties Groundwater Resources page; http://www.bernco.gov/groundwater-220649/
- Funding-The Groundwater Program is funded by General Funds as well as EGRST. EGRST funding that comes to the Groundwater Program will be reducing in the next few years, so we are currently looking at other funding avenues.
- Well Education call/guide-We are hoping to host another well education class in March 2015. We are also working on a guide for well owners. I will send out an email once we have the class scheduled. It will again be held in the East Mountains, will be free and open to all County residents.
- Data Sharing-We are working with the Office and the State Engineer and the Bureau of Geology to provide them with water levels in the East Mountain Area. The State Engineer monitors water levels every 5 years in the Sandia Basin, so we will be providing them with data on an increased schedule, as well as data for an increased monitoring area.
- Do we want more wells to monitor-YES! If you know anyone who may be interested please pass on my contact information. We are especially interested in monitoring unused domestic wells as they give us a static water level, as well as show us trends in the regional aquifer.