Parker gives groundwater presentation

Conceptual model demonstrates need for more data on Indian Wells Valley basin

By BRIAN COSNER, News Review Staff Writer

What is a hydrogeological conceptual model? According to Tim Parker, an HCM is a geological framework that helps its users understand the flow of groundwater. Parker is a consulting hydrogeologist for the Indian Wells Valley Water District.

Members of the public were invited to hear a presentation on the HCM of the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin Wednesday morning at City Hall.

“Geology determines where the water has space and where the best flow paths are,” said Parker. “It’s critical to understand the relationship between groundwater and the geology.”

The final draft HCM is a culmination of lithological data from more than 1,000 wells, groundwater level monitoring from the Kern County Water Agency, 500 linear miles from a SkyTEM aerial geophysical survey, Stanford University’s Groundwater Architecture Project, thousands of total dissolved solids sample analyses and more.

Data collection for the groundwater basin has had its obstacles. SkyTEM’s aerial survey excludes large portions of the northern end of the IWV basin where the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake is located. And there is still very little well monitoring information for a large southern portion of the basin, known as the El Paso area.

And the basin isn’t just an underground pool. Its makeup includes, gravel, clay, tuff, basalt, sandstone and other materials – all of which affect the way our groundwater flows and is stored.

While the HCM is a big step forward in understanding our groundwater activity, Parker said, “We don’t have good coverage of the entire basin, especially in the El Paso area and along the Sierra fault zone.

“What we don’t have a real good handle on is how much water is coming in from the Sierra Nevada, and how much is coming in from mountain block recharge — there could be a fair amount of that.”

Parker added that the presented HCM isn’t truly “final” because concerned parties will be able to continually update the digital model with more data as they acquire it.

He couldn’t address how the information might affect efforts to prepare a Groundwater Sustain-ability Plan, but the HCM will be freely available to the IWV Groundwater Authority and its committees.

The Authority held its regular meeting on Thursday, but details weren’t available at press time.

Story First Published: 2019-03-22