U.S.G.S visits Bryan

Bryan Times, Sept. 11, 2018 (report by Josh Ewers Counties meet about Michindoh: Three states, six counties gather to discuss aquifer)

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The meeting was attended heavily by local officials on hand to hear presentations from U.S. Geological Survey hydrologists, Watson Well Drilling Inc. personnel and also to touch on future plans …

According to USGS officials, before work can get started tracking overall usage and stresses moving forward, work should be done by the USGS to better understand and map the aquifer and its relationships with the watershed in order for information drawn from test wells to be effectively utilized, as the aquifer’s depth, materials therein and environmental factors are far from uniform across its area.

Recent “improved” compilations of “multi=-state-based water well and bedrock drilling records” done at the federal level (Bayless, 2017 and Lampe, 2009) would be used on a preliminary basis for the USGS proposal.

The proposal would seek to show, with as much specificity as possible, what the various areas of the aquifer look like as a preliminary step to eventually helping determine things like recharge rates, which are highly site-specific throughout the aquifer’s area, due to differing thickness, clay versus gravel, etc.

During the mapping process, estimations of what lies in the gaps of that information would be made alongside recommendations on further well drilling needs to fill in gaps where estimation is not possible or useful.

“You can understand how a system works by how it works under stresses,” said Paul Buszka, supervisory hydrologist in the USGS’s Hydrologic Investigations section, “not just what’s happening in the now, but understanding what happens during times of plentiful water and drought.

“This is the first stage of the groundwork you have to lay,” he said. “The idea is we need to lay the framework where we try to understand what’s between what is known and the bedrock.

“It’s quality assurance to make sure the answers, the interpretations we’re coming up with are things that are defensible and you can go on with.”

Total cost for aquifer information amalgamation, mapping and subsequent computerized groundwater flow simulations was stated at $100,000 by USGS officials, a total that would be reduced to $70,000 after matching grants by the federal government.

That cost would potentially be split, depending on ability and desire, among interested counties, representatives from each of which will bring the proposal back to their own boards for discussion and/or a vote in the short term.

Information would be gathered over a one-year to 16-month period, according to USGS officials.

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To that end, officials tentatively discussed the hiring of a private consultant to analyze the information gathered and provide guidance to the group of county officials.

Before anyone from the government of a consultant can be hired, county officials indicated there is still more research to be done as far as officially and legally forming the entity, determining which county’s auditor would lead the financial component, determining what authority such a group would have and other organizational considerations.

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