IWVWD: watch for SkyTEM helo

Aerial survey could paint clearer picture of groundwater basin

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

IWVWD: watch for SkyTEM heloIndian Wells Valley Water District issued an advisory this week about a low-flying helicopter scheduled to hover of the valley in order to collect data that could help inform better management of our groundwater.

According to IWVWD Manager Don Zdeba, the district has partnered with Coso Operating Company, Mojave Pistachios and Meadowbrook Farm to collect and record geophysical measurements from the El Paso to the Argus mountain ranges.

Crews and equipment are expected to arrive at Inyokern Airport Saturday, Nov. 4. Primary flights are expected to run approximately Nov. 9-13.

SkyTEM, a Denmark-based survey company, is contracting with Stanford University on a $2.1-million study. Zdeba said SkyTEM and Stanford will each be covering approximately $700,000 of the cost, with the three participating ground basins (including IWV) picking up the rest.

Zdeba said he hopes the district will be able to get more comprehensive data on the groundwater depth, quality and geological features. All previous models have depended on well information — leaving experts to interpret the gaps in between. “What SkyTEM does is give you a continuous picture.”

The data collected will help build up a database of information and ultimately could yield a 3-D model of our groundwater basin.

“One thing we are looking for out of this is an ability to map our brackish water resources in our basin — where the boundaries are for potable water and how much we have,” said Zdeba.

“Once you have a better picture of that, you can evaluate the economics for a treatment facility.”

Although the study is not being funded by the IWV Groundwater Authority — the agency tasked with coming up with a state-mandated plan for groundwater sustainability — Zdeba said he expects the district to share information with the GA board and its resources manager.

SkyTEM has indicated to the water district that they will have some preliminary data available by Christmas. After that, the district will have a firm review of the quality of the data to determine whether they can use it.

“But as far as having refined data, and being able to put it to use, we are looking at a spring timeframe,” said Zdeba.

Pictured: A media advisory issued this week warned residents about low-flying aircraft participating in an aerial survey. -- Courtesy photo

Story First Published: 2017-11-03