What's new in Groundwater?

Groundwater news and perspective

posted by KU's GEOL 751 class of 2021

San Kamphaeng Hot Springs, Thailand (photo by Schulmeister, 2019)

This list of relevant local and regional groundwater science news has been compiled by the students of KU's online Physical Hydrogeology class of 2021. The students live in 13 U.S. states and in the United Arab Emirates. Contributions include personal insights, reports on, or links to groundwater-related issues in students' communities or regions, and demonstrate the broad application of topics we cover in class. The blog also provides a networking tool for our diverse group of geographically separated students.

Update on what's happening in Hays KS, from Adam Alani in Kansas : The cites of Hays and Russell purchased a ranch called the R9 ranch with water rights in 1995. It wasn’t until 2015 that Hays an Russell applied to use the water rights on the R9 ranch for municipal use by pumping it 67 miles north. Since then, engineering firms have modeled water use for the city in an attempt to see if water levels would decrease and if usage would not result in impairment. Keller-Bliesner Engineering (K-B) in Utah performed initial models based on crop water use consumption based on evapotranspiration. Big Bend GMD #5 was involved with lending their MODFLOW model to Burns & McDonnell (BMcD) to help model the area of interest, who then claimed that K-B’s model was far too conservative. The firms went back and forth on this matter. (1) But it was ultimately decided to pump 4,800 ac-ft of water per year (per the recommendations of BMcD) compared to the 6,757 ac-ft allowed for municipal use or 7,647 ac-ft of irrigated use under the water rights of the R9 ranch. Opponents of this claim that a water “nonprofit agriculture irrigation” lobbying group campaigned the GMD #5 to suggest limiting water use unfairly since they are choosing not to irrigate with the water from the ranch, claiming they should have access to the irrigated use water limits (2). (1) https://agriculture.ks.gov/divisions-programs/dwr/water-appropriation/change-applications/hays-change-and-water-transfer (2) https://www.hdnews.net/story/news/2021/01/12/city-claims-r-9-ranch-water-development-foes-show-double-standard/6639232002/

Another climate-driven hydrologic observation. From Neal Doherty: A joint investigation by USA Today and Investigate Midwest has found that fertilizer runoff is increasing due to climate change. The focus of the report is Champaign County, Illinois an agricultural area that grows a large amount of corn. Nitrogen fertilizer use is high there and as climate change has brought more rain to the area runoff of the fertilizer has increased. Champaign is in the Mississippi River basin and its fertilizer runoff eventually ends up in the Gulf of Mexico where it contributes to significant algae blooms which emit methane gas. I was aware of the fertilizer runoff issue but not so much the positive feedback loop that had been formed by shifting weather patterns caused by climate change and the subsequent increase in greenhouse gas production. See: https://investigatemidwest.org/2021/11/30/excess-fertilizer-washed-from-midwestern-fields-is-slowly-poisoning-the-gulf-of-mexico/

A reflection on last night's class from From Sarah Gundrum, in Greenbay WI: In an area known for its sand and gravel deposits in Central Wisconsin, lakes are draining due to water withdrawals from wells. Most of the water used is for farm irrigation. Lake levels have been reduced by almost 3 feet, and approximately 100,000 gallons of water per day are pumped from 110 nearby wells. The state is looking to adopt an effective system that may include limits on pumping and more efficient water use. Kansas water management strategies may be adopted to develop a better system in Wisconsin. Modeling, as we recently studied in class, would be an effective way to understand how the wells are affecting lake water levels. For more on this subject, see: https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/environment/dnr-study-finds-irrigation-responsible-for-draining-lakes/article_69efc202-d738-5c15-ad01-01d78a8a2e9e.html

And another reflection on our guest lecture by Adam Alani in Lawrence, KS: During our guest lecture, David Barfield mentioned the water supply issues of Hays Kansas and his involvement with the predicament as Chief Engineer. Although Hays is not within a Ground Water Management District (GMD) (1) or under the administration of a Local Enhanced Management Areas (LEMAs) (2), the city has attempted to reduce water consumption and look for sources of water outside Hays. Recently, Hays scaled back their water restrictions to now not allowing the following: Residents cannot wash off hard surfaces (i.e. driveways, parking lots, windows, etc.), allow water to escape off property (i.e. draining to a sidewalk), or water outdoors from noon to 7 p.m. over the summer. Violations results in fines of up to $250.00. Their regulations also applied to private wells. These city ordinances show that Hays is somewhat concerned with the water supply they have and are attempting to scale back use (3). Refs: (1) https://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/gmd.html (2)http://kda-dwr-updates.org/local-enhanced-management-area-lema/ (3)https://www.haysusa.com/565/Water-RulesRestrictions

Living along the Missouri River, Rachel Puleo adds: Additional to agricultural productivity gained from irrigation and predictable flooding, rivers have also been the major source of potable water across history. Today, as erosion and contamination threaten our water supply, communities rely on treated water to serve their needs. Alex Dzurick from Columbia Water and Light discusses Columbia, Missouri’s drinking water source, and how we are lucky in having a natural alluvial aquifer in the McBaine Bottoms. This type of aquifer serves as the first step in the filtration of potable water. Formed from glacial deposits along the Missouri river’s edge, this aquifer holds 44 billion gallons of naturally filtered water, which is then secondarily treated at the city’s water treatment plant before being piped to customers. Due to the natural properties of this aquifer, Columbia has high-quality water and exceeds the water quality standards set by the EPA. I believe it is important to know where your local water is coming from as a better understanding can allow empowered decisions to protect the natural resources around you. See:

https://www.kbia.org/science-and-technology/2014-04-01/the-geology-behind-columbias-water-supply for more info

Tim Shaban (here in Lawrence KS) on hydroclimatology: Scientists at the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in the Sierra Nevada have monitored precipitation rates using hydrologic modeling over the region to assist with weather forecasting and water management. To predict precipitation amounts, scientists utilize a temperature threshold to gauge whether a system will produce rain or snow. Typically, we define this value as 0°C. In the Sierra Nevada region, however, the phase change shows a warmer threshold occurring closer to 4.2°C or 39.5°F, thereby affecting accurate predictions of snow accumulations or rainfall amounts by models. The research team enlisted volunteer spotters to assist with real-time monitoring of precipitation events and record precipitation types of snow, rain, or a mixture that adds to the information outside of the hydrologic models. Accurately estimating precipitation rates will better serve this region that relies on snowmelt and assist in flood and drought predictions as well as provide insight for future water management resources. For More Information: https://www.dri.edu/traditional-hydrologic-models-may-misidentify-snow-as-rain/ Original Research: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feart.2021.617594/full Latest News: https://www.dri.edu/

MODFLOW in action! From Dalton Cabaugh (Fayetteville, PA): Groundwater contamination was discovered proximate to several industrial facilities in southeastern Pennsylvania. In response, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) conducted investigations utilizing geophysical methods, aquifer testing, water-level monitoring, and streamflow measurements to provide a framework from which to develop a three-dimensional finite-difference numerical model. The USGS used MODFLOW-2000 to simulate regional steady-state flow to determine the direction of groundwater and contaminate flow paths. The full report can be found at https://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2013/5045/support/sir2013-5045.pdf.

As Logan French, originally from Texas, states: Texas faces many groundwater issues. Among these is the decline of Trinity Aquifer (https://pubs.usgs.gov/ha/ha730/ch_e/E-text8.html), an aquifer underlying much of central Texas. Water is pumped for use in several major cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, and Waco as well as for agricultural purposes. Unfortunately, a high demand has resulted in over-pumping and the decline of Trinity Aquifer over the last 20 years. Many springs and surface water bodies are fed by groundwater in this region and therefore rely on the maintenance of the water table level. Because of over-pumping, these surface water sources are threatened and declining. Springs that used to produce flowing water year round are in some cases only seeing small amounts of water dribbling out during parts of the year. Streams flow at lower levels or not at all during some seasons. This creates hardships for the people and environment depending on them and is only on the rise. A lack of understanding leads landowners to continue pumping as normal rather than working on preserving the declining resource. Read more about this issue here: https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2021/05/24/texas-groundwater-supplies-are-shrinking-and-thats-a-threat-to-us-all/

For more information on groundwater decline in general:


For a dive into the career of Dirk Aaron and his mission to preserve aquifers in Texas:


Fred Tarley of Kansas City is interested in groundwater depletion in India: Multiple problems of groundwater depletion are arousing around the world. Studies from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati explored the consequences of too much irrigation on river-aquifer flow system on the Kosi basin, portion of the approximately 2,500-kilometer-long Ganges River, in 2010. The studies discovered that in spite of the flow of water from river to aquifers increased during the dry period of time, the flow from the aquifers to rivers was reduced. In the hydrological concept, the changes in these systems can muddle a long-term consequence in terms of reduced river flow. The study site is embedded with agricultural land, whose groundwater demand account for nearly 80 percent of total irrigation demand in the basin. See: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022169421008611

Dipika Kataky in UAE reports on an ancient approach to irrigation: Aflai Systems Aflaj (singular: falaj) are channel systems that access groundwater by gravity flow from underground galleries or surface springs on neighbouring mountain slopes. Aflaj is an Arabic word which means ‘split into parts.’ The system evenly divides water between farms and therefore it is known as Falaj. https://www.bayut.com/mybayut/falaj-irrigation-system-uae/ It refers to an underground channel that ensures the supply of water to the crops. It is an ancient irrigation system that has been an integral part of Al Dakhliya, Al Batinah and Al Sharqiyah regions in Oman since 500 AD. The famous Al Ain Aflaj system in the UAE is reported to have existed from around 1000 years BC, making it the oldest in the region. There are three types of aflaj systems in Oman: ainy, daudi and ghaily, of which ainy and daudi utilize groundwate Ghaily aflaj intercept the surface water from wadi flow and direct it towards the desired areas. These aflaj are dependent on surface water and they are active only in wet periods. Ainy aflaj intercept the discharge of natural springs and mainly originate from bedding planes, faults and fractures of the carbonate rocks or ophiolites. Daudi aflaj intercept the main groundwater flow by means of channels drilled horizontally along the slope of topographic highs to reach the water table. There are more than 3,000 aflaj in Oman, with an average water supply of 552 MCM/yr and losses of 128 MCM/yr due to leakage at the main canals. https://water.fanack.com/oman/water-resources-oman/ See photos, below:

From Neal Doherty, an engineering student: In May 2020 the Edenville Dam that forms Wixom Lake in Michigan failed and caused extensive flooding as well as the further failure of the Sanford Dam downstream. The independent team examining the failure recently issued an interim report that suggests that the dam failure may be explained by some of the concepts we have covered in class. Flow of the water from the lake, which was at record high levels, into the earthen dam saturated the dam material. As pore water pressure increased, effective stress and the shear strength of the dam material was decreased until a slope failure occurred. The dam failed and released the water from the lake. This is especially interesting to me as some of the blame for the failure can be traced to poor fill placement during the construction of the dam. In my current job I often observe and test fill placement to make sure it has been properly compacted and is composed of the expected material. I have linked the report below, as well as a video that has footage of the failure and gives an overview of the report’s findings.



Dipika Kataky writes about the values of water in the United Arab Emerates: Living and working in the UAE, I never felt for once that this is huge water deficit country. The UAE has one of the highest per capita water consumption rates in the world at 477 cubic meters per day Despite having only 1.4% of the world’s water resources, UAE ranks 85 in the price ranking. The average cost of a bottle of water is only 0.33 $, while in Switzerland is 4.13 $.

First-hand insight on coastal subsidence from Logan French: Until three months ago, I had lived in Houston, TX my entire life. It has been a big city with a big water demand for a long time, and although now it gets most of its water supply from surface water, it has a history of heavy groundwater use, resulting in subsidence issues. The geology of Houston is primarily soft sediment, especially silt and clay which is subject to compaction which expedites subsidence issues. Houston lies along the Gulf Coast and is at risk for hurricanes and large flooding events. It is a city covered in cement, and when sinking is added in, flooding can very quickly become disastrous. I was in Houston when Hurricane Harvey hit and saw the destruction and loss of life first hand. Huge numbers of people were displaced, hospitals were overrun, people were left stranded, and months later some roads were still under water. Although efforts have been made to reduce groundwater use, and both subsidence districts in the area (Harris-Galveston Subsidence District https://hgsubsidence.org/ and Fort Bend Subsidence District https://fbsubsidence.org/ ) have mitigation plans in place, this is not a new issue and it seems that these measures are not enough to stop a problem that cannot be reversed. Read more about recent calls for action here: https://today.tamu.edu/2021/02/08/a-sinking-situation-in-houston-texas-gulf-coast/ and here: https://www.businessinsider.com/cities-towns-sinking-rapidly-us-2019-6 and see some examples of how far back this issue goes here: https://texaslivingwaters.org/groundwater/subsidence-houston-galveston-region/#:~:text=Since%201836%2C%20groundwater%20withdrawals%20have,of%20the%20land%20to%20collapse.

From Rachel Puleo: Each year, the state of Florida experiences algae blooms that occur both on the coast and inland. Although natural, over the last two decades the severity of the blooms has increased due to toxic chemicals in runoff or dumping in lakes, streams, and local bays. The articles attached below provide an overview of what algae blooms are, how they occur, how climate change may be impacting them, and what we can do to help. The second link goes into depth how the once sandy bottom of Lake Okeechobee (Floridas largest fresh water lake) now holds tens of thousands metric tons of phosphorus, their origin how they came to be there, and what the state legislation is doing about it. These two issues are related through the industrial and agricultural industies impact on the algae blooms seen across the state each year, which impact the economy and water quality. The last link provides an in depth case study from the USGS on the city of Okeechobee as their main water-supply source is Lake Okeechobee. Recurring water-quality problems in the lake (algae blooms) affect the treatment methods and creates poor-tasting water. The document further goes over how the city's water supply is then supplemented by ground water from the surficial aquifer system that is suitable for public supply after treatment. See:

https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/SG153 and

https://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/2020/06/08/why-floridas-toxic-algae-crisis-is-worse-than-people-realize/ and https://pubs.usgs.gov/wri/1992/4166/report.pdf

More on the dilemma of fractured aquifers from Thomas Nelson in Kentucky: An unlined landfill was commissioned in Maxey Flats, KY in the early 1960s to dispose of low-level radioactive waste constituents from the military, hospitals, and other industry. Approximately 4,700,000 cubic feet of material was disposed of in this landfill of which, approximately 431 kg of plutonium and enriched uranium product until the landfill stopped taking waste in 1977. Over time, precipitation infiltration through the disposed material created radioactive leachate that was able to reach a shallow, fractured groundwater system surrounding the site. Monitoring wells are distributed around the perimeter of the site and are continuously monitored with a full-time Superfund Branch staff that are officed near the site. Remediation work was completed in recent years and the site is now in the monitoring phase. Groundwater and surface water radiation levels as well and site maintenance will be conducted for many years into the future. The site remains an active CERCLA site. To read more about this just Google “Maxey Flats Disposal Site” or follow these links: https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2019/11/f68/Maxey%20Flats%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf


We've discussed floodplain aquifers and stream-aquifer semester. Ali Vinke (Kansas City, MO) lives along the largest watershed on the U.S.... The Upper Missouri River Basin is an important resource for communities all along the river. Whether it be for crops or drinking water, people who live along the Missouri River rely on the resiliency of the Upper Basin to recharge the entire river. Scientists from the Bureau of Reclamation have conducted a study to examine and provide options for the increased water demand that the Missouri River Basin faces. With rising temperatures and less snow melt to recharge the Headwaters, concerns are arising about the sustainability of this water supply and how to mitigate overuse of the water itself. For more, see: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/926655

More on water resource management, this time from Dipika K in the United Arab Emirates: The aridity, population growth, agriculture and industrial activities threaten the water resources in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The groundwater quantity is reduced, and its quality is also deteriorated due to the scanty of rainfall and over pumping for different uses. The annual recharge and the total amount of groundwater production is estimated to be 237600 million gallons where the recharge to the aquifers is about 33000 million gallons. The deficit is covered by increasing the desalination of seawater and brackish water. In 2010, UAE was spending $800 million per year on building, operating and maintenance of desalination plants which has jumped to $1.6 billion in 2019, With water demand growing annually, there is an increasing need to invest in infrastructure and water efficiency technology. The UAE’s Water Security Strategy 2036, set out by the government at the end of 2017, established several targets for the water industry: The government is looking at new technologies to recycle wastewater and improve wastewater treatment, as wastewater treatment facilities are far cheaper to construct and maintain than desalination plants.

11/07/21, Arwin Dobber, Ocala, FL – Although studying in Kansas and living in Florida, I was born and raised in the Netherlands. As a densely populated country with one-third of its surface area below sea level and situated at the confluence of three major rivers (Rhine, Meuse, and Schelde), water management takes on a central role in securing the country’s future. Some of the biggest problems the country is facing today include 1) human-induced groundwater table lowering and saltwater intrusion. Most of the country’s coastal deltaic plain used be at about sea level until the 11th century, when the wetlands were reclaimed by draining surface water and lowering the groundwater table. This drainage resulted in a decrease in hydraulic head (and an increase in vertical effective stress), which caused the Holocene peat layers to oxidize and compress (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328174159_Differential_subsidence_in_the_urbanised_coastal-deltaic_plain_of_the_Netherlands). As a result, large parts of the western Netherlands are now 4 to 7 m below sea level. This subsidence continues into the present with groundwater extraction and droughts being the main drivers. Last year was one of the driest years on record (link to drought (droogte) map: https://www.knmi.nl/nederland-nu/klimatologie/droogtemonitor). Because older buildings (pre-1900s, like those in Amsterdam) are built on wooden foundations that start to rot when exposed to air, the unusually low groundwater tables caused significant damage to many buildings that year. Additionally, since the freshwater lens is relatively thin (<100 m), extracting too much groundwater could bring brackish-saline water up closer to the surface (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S002216941730241X?casa_token=oXuNe9-XQmIAAAAA:MAgfwTQe19Wu81XuXzT1KVcBmdO1o8cYvAskjlQ_OX8P0HPbjGlEE4AZ3O1FdgfZ0Z8_e0g1SA). This is a problem that dates back centuries. According to a Frisian saga (pagan), a town near Stavoren had to be abandoned after all neighboring freshwater wells were turned salty by a dragon.

Fredrick Tarley, originally from Ibera, now living in KC, has conducted his own water balance model...Why is Lake Chad Shrinking? The Lake Chad Basin could be subdivided into two main hydrological sub basins. The Chari-Logone subsystem, which covers approximately 650,000 km2 and hosts the Chari River and the Waza-Logone floodplains. The komadugu-Yobe subsystem, which covers 148,000 km2 but contributes only to 2.5% of the total riverine inflow into Lake Chad ((Boucher, C. et al). the studies of the Lake Chad groundwater system suggest that groundwater in the Middle and the Lower Aquifers is 20,000 or more years old and is not replenished by modern recharge (Lake chad fact sheet - global water partnership - GWP). Concerning the upper aquifer recharge, other studies have highlighted recharges zones in higher areas (Mandara Mountains, Guera and Batha massifs) and in exposed sand dunes areas (Pham-Duc, B., Sylvestre, F., Papa, F., Frappart, F., Bouchez, C., & Crétaux, J.-F). Leakages from three rivers (Yaéré, and Logone Rivers), the Lake Chad and wetlands also contribute to aquifer recharge. However, these latest groundwater recharges have decreased in recent years, mainly due to drought conditions and management decisions in the upstream regions. Sadly, river flows have dropped by 47% and, summing lower precipitation, the total input volume in flowing into the Lake has decreased by 50% (Bouchez, C., & Crétaux, J.-F) The water quality is high on average, although a salinization phenomenon in the North. Lake Chad had two pools, the north and south. The shrinking of Lake chad is observed at the northern pool (Bouchez, C. et al). Based on my research, I came across several factors that is contributing to the shrinking of the lake. First is the decrease of the Komadugu Yobe discharge during the last decade is the driving force to the shrinking of the lake. Secondly, the increase in vegetation in the region of the can also result to a decrease in runoff (Fitts, 2013). In the 1970s, Lake Chad has gotten extremely low with an increase in temperature. Perpetually, vegetation had grown around the lake which have increased to about 30% in the las twenty years. As a result, evaporation in the Lake Chad region had increased over the years and runoff has also decreased especially in the northern pool making it to decrease or shrink gradually (Gao, H. et al. 2011).

Groundwater flow models are critical to understanding contaminant movement, as Dalton Carbaugh ( )points out: Groundwater contamination found in private and public supply wells was discovered proximate to two former Navy bases and an active Air National Guard Station in southeastern Pennsylvania. Perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate were found in concentrations above the United States Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) health advisory levels. A 2019 publication from the United State Geological Society (USGS) utilized previously collected data regarding the contamination to, “support development and calibration of a numerical model to simulate regional groundwater flow under selection conditions..”. These models provide valuable information in understanding contamination migration with respect to regional groundwater movement. The full report can be found at https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2019/1137/ofr20191137.pdf

In light of our COP26 discussion, here's more on climate change impacts on groundwater from Dorothy Linneman in Richland, WA -- Washington is not typically the state that comes to mind when thinking about deserts and droughts, but it is easy to forget that the majority of the land area of the state (everything east of the North Cascades) is a dry, desert climate except for rivers and streams supplied by snowmelt in the mountains. This summer, eastern Washington experienced record high temperatures (over 120 degrees Fahrenheit in some places) as well as the worst droughts the state has ever experienced. While there was a reasonable amount of snow last winter, the record heat and lack of spring and summer precipitation significantly reduced recharge to surface bodies as well as groundwater. This record heat and drought led to extreme wildfire danger and many fires burned through the summer and into the fall season. Groundwater wells which have supplied farms and rural areas are pumping dry for the first time. If there is not enough precipitation this fall, many farmers will be faced with significant reductions in yield or rely on expensive water trucked in from outside the region. A La Niña pattern is predicted to affect the northwest this winter and hopefully bring cooler, wetter weather. Read more about it here: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/drought-hit-washington-hard-and-fast-heres-what-it-has-meant-for-farmers-wildfires/

Ali Vinke (of Kansas City fame), 10/27/21:

Scientists at Missouri S&T have been studying the subsidence occurring in the western United States, due to high water demand. They plan to take their results and findings (based on modeling approaches that use Machine Learning*), and apply them to Southeast Missouri, where there is high water demand for crops in the Mississippi River Basin. If precautions can be taken now to conserve the use of groundwater for such practices, subsidence can be avoided in the future.

See: https://news.mst.edu/2020/09/research-links-sinking-land-to-regions-of-high-groundwater-demand/

*more on Machine Learning to come in class modules on modeling (-MKS) .

11/8/21. We've been talking about COP26 this week. This entry from Ryan Powell illustrates the impacts of energy and water use on aquifers: In southern New Jersey exists the government protected New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve region. The Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer lies beneath the Pinelands region and is described as an unconfined aquifer where the surface layer consists of highly permeable sands and gravel with a shallow water table. Fast forward to today, New Jersey face pressures of redevelopment and a recent proposition to install a natural gas pipeline that would run through the protected area. Other threats to the aquifer are the increasing demands for future residential population consumption and increased agricultural use. In the early 2000s, federal and academic researchers investigated the Pinelands region and the effects of groundwater withdrawal from the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer and has drawn several conclusions regarding excessive drawdown and sustainability of the aquifer from human activities.

Stutz, B. (2017, August 10). In a Rare U.S. Preserve, Water Pressures Mount As Development Closes In. Yale E360. https://e360.yale.edu/features/in-a-rare-u-s-preserve-water-pressures-mount-as-development-closes-in

11/3/21 From Sarah Gundrum, in Wisconsin: One of the main causes of contaminated drinking water in Kewaunee County, WI is the karst topography that dominates the area. Karst topography is created by carbonate bedrock that reacts with and is dissolved by water. Karst topography consists of fractured bedrock (including caves and sinkholes) with glacial deposits on top. Recharge events and precipitation cause contamination, such as manure, to infiltrate the shallow soils and move directly into the groundwater. The carbonate dolomite that dominates the western shore of Lake Michigan creates a unique network of conduits that allow for fast recharge rates of aquifers, yet pose a great health risk. See:

https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/environment/cow-manure-predicted-to-cause-most-sickness-from-contaminated-wells-in-kewaunee-county/article_abca4c7d-0a60-5e47-8e7a-aa07342df015.html for more information.

10/21/21: Ethan Hersch (who lives in Long Beach, CA): The California Aqueduct is a concrete channel that runs over 400 miles from the Sacramento – San Juaquin Delta in Central California to Southern California. The aqueduct provides water to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Kern, San Luis Obispo Counties. Over pumping of groundwater for agricultural irrigation throughout the Central Valley has led to significant subsidence and ultimately has decreased the efficiency of the aqueduct by over 20%. Recent studies have indicated that historic disposal of oil production wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in production water ponds near the Lost Hills Oil Field now threaten to migrate into the aqueduct. The wastewater has migrated from the unlined ponds through the alluvium and ultimately through the Corcoran Clay layer and into the regional groundwater aquifer toward the aqueduct.. The article at (https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.est.1c02056) focuses on "Section 29" which is near Lost Hills, CA about 40 miles south of Corcoran, CA. Perhaps I should move.

AND, also from Ethan Hersch: Historic subsidence of the City The City of Long Beach from pumping of oil and the implementation of offshore water injection wells. is relevant to this week's lectures. Although the problem originated in 1940s and was addressed in the 1960s, the protection of the "Astronaut Islands" (pump stations) was a major factor in a recent decision to maintain the breakwater. The sinking of the breakwater is a topic which residents have very strong opinions regarding. Here are a couple figures demonstrating the issue:

Speaking of urban impacts, on subsidence, here's what's happening in NYC. From Ryan Powell:

Dewatering is the process of intentionally removing water from a location by pumping for land redevelopment or installing subsurface components (i.e. basements, utility piping) in some cases. The process of dewatering is noticeably having a profound effect on neighboring properties in present day New York City where buildings are sinking from this practice. This article highlights dewatering activity and how neighboring buildings were becoming more susceptible to cracks/shifts in the pavement and the settlement of foundation slabs in residential buildings. It was later observed from installed monitoring wells that water table levels were drastically decreased causing this major damage as land subsidence was occurring from dewatering, causing soil compaction as groundwater was being was extracted for construction purposes. See: Sinking Garages . . . City and Developer Irresponsibility: A Special Report. (2008, November). Habitat Magazine, New York’s Co-Op and Condo Community. Retrieved October 31, 2021, from https://www.habitatmag.com/Publication-Content/Board-Operations/2008/2008-November/Sinking-Garages-City-Irresponsibility

9/24/21: Payal Makhasana (is here in Kansas, completing graduate work on Drought Mechanisms): Kansas is divided into two parts based on the geology and topographic division, one is the High Plains (also known as Great plains and covers the western and central Kansas), and another is Central Lowland (covers eastern Kansas). The aquifer situated in the High Plains is shallow and unconfined. Apart from this, most of the soil in central Kansas is permeable, saturated, and hydraulically connected. This type of soil condition is highly suitable for the Wetlands, and the reason of that many high-density small wetlands are situated in central Kansas. The Wetlands are a transition between the surface and subsurface water which increases the water quality and passes the water in a shallow unconfined aquifer. The national summary wetland resources have provided the summary of hydrologic setting and physiographic division and determine that wetland losses are influences by the depletion of the surface and subsurface water, primarily result from excess withdrawal for irrigation. https://www.fws.gov/wetlands/data/Water-Summary-Reports/National-Water-Summary-Wetland-Resources-Kansas.pdf. The groundwater table in this region highly depended on the Arkansas River and Walnut Creek River basin. Therefore the State Division of Water Resources has established an intensive Groundwater use control in the basin area to restore the aquifer recharge and baseflow.

9/30/2021-Jack Palmerton Chatham, MA. Although I am from New York, I tend to spend most of my summers in Cape Cod and the article that I came across discusses the water supply concerns for the town in the future. During the demanding summer months, water supply wells have fallen short of their demands in the town of Chatham. The town is adding one more well and pending approval from the State DEP. The board is also asking for 4.5 million dollars in the hopes to add another two additional wells to take the pressure off the already suffering wells throughout the town. Not to mention that most of these wells are contaminated with PFAS, so they would like to construction a water treatment plant to help with the PFAS, iron, and manganese contamination. Monitoring wells in the area are showing a downward trend in water levels and the U.S. drought monitor the towns of Chatham, Brewster, and Orleans in a state of severe drought. With limited snowmelt to replenish the groundwater, water restrictions were mandated to help prevent catastrophe. 3 of the 9 wells in Chatham showed to have been contaminated with PFAS chemicals. These wells are located near the municipal airport, which may be the source of contamination. Another possible nearby source could be the landfill nearby. It is theorized that one well maybe drawing the PFAS from a nearby well, which was shut down because the PFAS levels were above the State standard.


9/22/21 Tim Shabin (Tim works for the KGS, in Lawrence, KS) : In 2018, the Kansas Geological Survey (KGS) established the Kansas River Index Well Network, a series of monitoring wells to track groundwater levels in the region. The key section of interest of the Kansas River extends throughout Northeast Kansas to Kansas City, where it intersects and terminates into the Missouri River at Kaw Point, Kansas City, Kansas. Groundwater located in this alluvial aquifer system is an area of interest as it supplies water resources for industry, municipal, and irrigation practices for the City of Lawrence, KS and neighboring counties in Kansas. In Lawrence, KS in particular, the Bowersock Dam generates a water pool for city municipal intake as well as a source for hydroelectric power. The KGS provides real-time monitoring data of the water levels in the aquifer to gain a better understanding of groundwater use and characterize future water management related to aquifer sustainability as future projections in population growth remain on the rise. An interactive map of the Kansas River Index Well Network can be found at https://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/KansasRiver/index.html complete with real-time well levels and accompanying hydrograph displays. Additional project information related to the real-time monitoring, construction, and annual data of the program may be accessed at: https://www.kgs.ku.edu/Hydro/Publications/2019/OFR19_18/OFR2019-18.pdf



Kim Coddington 9/10/21: I live in Texas and Hill Country, in central Texas, is my absolute favorite part of the state. The karst topography is responsible for creating the unique geological attractions that Texans love: caves, rolling hills, Jacob's Well sink hole (http://www.visitwimberley.com/jacobswell/jwspring.shtml), and the Hamilton Pool. This natural pool was created by an underground river. Thousands of years ago, an underground river carved through the soft limestone, forming a massive dome-shaped underground cavern. Eventually the cavern collapsed, creating a huge U-shaped grotto complete with a 50' waterfall. Hamilton Pool attracts thousands of people to its swimming and hiking preserve every year, but this year these recreation activities were cut short. Safety precautions have caused the preserve to close due to an increase of falling rocks. The unprecedented winter storm that Texas saw in February 2021 caused water caught in the eroded rock cracks surrounding Hamilton Pool to freeze, expand, create bigger cracks and now rocks are falling. For more on this, Hamilton Pool, and the karst topography in Texas visit https://www.austin360.com/story/lifestyle/2021/06/23/hamilton-pool-swimming-hole-austin-tx-closed-falling-rocks/5321410001/, https://parks.traviscountytx.gov/parks/hamilton-pool-preserve/, https://texasspeleologicalsurvey.org/karst_caving/texas_karst.php.

9/9/21, Dorothy Linneman, Richland, WA -- During World War II, most of the plutonium used to create nuclear weapons was produced and processed at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state. The Hanford site is located only about 30 miles north of a population of about 300,000 people (Tri Cities, WA), and the Columbia River runs through the site. While there is no active plutonium production at the site anymore, there is a large amount of waste in buried tanks as well as directly in the sediments below the site. Recently it was discovered that one of the large tanks holding radioactive waste underground is actively leaking into the subsurface: https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article251017489.html. While official estimates predict that the waste would take more than 25 years to reach groundwater, it may still pose a risk to the groundwater feeding the Columbia river if successful remediation is not completed. Contamination mitigation is one of the primary missions of the Hanford site and contractors supporting it, including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. (MKS: Dorothy works at this lab as a geophysicist!)

9/1/21, Marcia Schulmeister, Lawrence, KS - The Ogallala aquifer in Kansas has been monitored by the Kansas Geological Survey for several decades. Water-level declines have been observed since the start of monitoring, and have resulted in the development of a groundwater resource management and protection tool referred to as a Local Enhanced Management Area or LEMA . For a short explanation what a LEMA is listen at: https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2021/05/19/kansas-groundwater-farmers. A hearing and testimony are conducted with local stakeholders and managers as a first step in the creation of a LEMA. This past year, a new LEMA was established for Wichita County, Kansas. For an example of the sort of interesting testimony that underlies the LEMA decision making process, skip through the (long) ZOOM recorded hearing at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVEMakeCvHs.