‘It’s valuable that you get the right data’

Groundwater Authority hears from SkyTEM about survey technology

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

“It’s valuable that you get the right data before you start making critical costly decisions,”said Jacob Vind from the Danish Water Technology Alliance who, along with Max Halkjaer of Denmark’s SkyTEM, gave a presentation on aerial groundwater surveying technology to the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority earlier this month.

“So what are a bunch of Danes doing in California?” asked Vind.

As with the IWV, groundwater is the largest source of water for Denmark by a large margin. Vind explained that the Danish government has worked with SkyTEM to create an active groundwater model to better preserve and regulate water use — a task they want to help us with in California.

Vind said that SkyTEM’s aerial mapping technique was designed to reveal water channels in “blind spots” between wells that go undetected when only well data is measured.

When the floor was open to public comment, Dr. Don Decker asked the presenters how accurate and reproducible the results were, given the degree of electromagnetic interference present in the modern world.

“This is a very mature technology,” clarified Vind. “It’s something that is applied accross the world. It’s not an experimental technology.

Hakljaer added that he could provide interested members of the public with more technical documentation.

The other looming question was the cost of implementing such technologies given the authority’s limited financing. Acquiring funding sources for groundwater sustainability efforts was one of the meeting’s main discussion topics.

According to Kern County Chief Administrative Officer for Water Resources Alan Christensen, the IWVGA’s grant funds would soon be used up by hiring a water resource management firm and having the U.S, Geological Survey conduct a study.

“Ultimately, we need some other funding sources,” said Christensen, who added that attorney fees would continue to be “significant” and the Groundwater Sustainable Plan could potentially cost millions.

But Kern County consulting hydrogeologist Tim Parker said that fortunately the IWVGA would not be expected to fund the aerial survey. He said that the $2.1 million survey project was being funded in part by the Danish government, the state of California and other local agencies.

“Our local funding is being developed by the Brackish Water Study Group,” said Parker. The group consists of the IWV Water District, Coso Geothermal Power Holdings, Searles Valley Minerals and Mojave Pistachio. He added that while the study was not a “certain thing, he was optimistic that it would come to fruition.

During his presentation, Vind also said that his organization used a cloud-based data management system to ensure that the survey’s findings would be transparent and open to the public.

“Is the end game for California to emulate that?” asked IWVGA Board Member Peter Brown.

Parker said that California legislation required all water data to be made accessible to the public, so yes.

More information on sustainable groundwater management can be found at www.co.kern.ca.us/ WaterResources.aspx. GSA meetings are recorded and are available for viewing and downloading at ridgecrest-ca.gov/media-vault?term=Other.

Story First Published: 2017-06-30