New USGS Report Describes Processes and Misconceptions Concerning the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow
Groundwater provides drinking water for millions of Americans and is the primary source of water to irrigate cropland in many of the nations most productive agricultural settings. Although the benefits of groundwater development are many, groundwater pumping can reduce the flow of water in connected streams and rivers—a process called streamflow depletion by wells. The USGS has released a new report that summarizes the body of knowledge on streamflow depletion, highlights common misconceptions, and presents new concepts to help water managers and others understand the effects of groundwater pumping on surface water.
“Groundwater discharge is a critical part of flow in most streams–and the more we pump below the ground, the more we deplete water flowing down the stream,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “When viewed over the long term, it is one big zero-sum game.”
Groundwater and surface-water systems are connected, and groundwater discharge is often a substantial component of the total flow of a stream. In many areas of the country, pumping wells capture groundwater that would otherwise discharge to connected streams, rivers, and other surface-water bodies. Groundwater pumping can also draw streamflow into connected aquifers where pumping rates are relatively large or where the locations of pumping are relatively close to a stream.
“Streamflow depletion caused by pumping is an important water-resource management issue across the nation because of the adverse effects that reduced flows can have on aquatic ecosystems, the availability of surface water, and the quality and aesthetic value of streams and rivers,” said Paul Barlow, USGS hydrologist and author on the report. “Managing the effects of streamflow depletion by wells is challenging, particularly because of the significant time delays that often occur between when pumping begins and when the effects of that pumping are realized in nearby streams. This report will help managers understand the many factors that control the timing, rates, and locations of streamflow depletion caused by pumping.”
Major conclusions from the report:
• Individual wells may have little effect on streamflow depletion, but small effects of many wells pumping within a basin can combine to produce substantial effects on streamflow and aquatic habitats.
• Basinwide groundwater development typically occurs over a period of several decades, and the resulting cumulative effects on streamflow depletion may not be fully realized for years.
• Streamflow depletion continues for some time after pumping stops because it takes time for a groundwater system to recover from the previous pumping stress. In some aquifers, maximum rates of streamflow depletion may occur long after pumping stops, and full recovery of the groundwater system may take decades to centuries.
• Streamflow depletion can affect water quality in the stream or in the aquifer. For example, in many areas, groundwater discharge cools stream temperatures in the summer and warms stream temperatures in the winter, providing a suitable year-round habitat for fish. Reductions in groundwater discharge to streams caused by pumping can degrade habitat by warming stream temperatures during the summer and cooling stream temperatures during the winter.
• The major factors that affect the timing of streamflow depletion are the distance from the well to the stream and the properties and geologic structure of the aquifer.
• Sustainable rates of groundwater pumping near streams do not depend on the rates at which groundwater systems are naturally replenished (or recharged), but on the total flow rates of the streams and the amount of reduced streamflow that a community or regulatory authority is willing to accept.
“Conjunctive management of groundwater and surface-water resources is critical in New Mexico, where our limited surface-water supplies can be impacted by new uses that are predominantly dependent on groundwater pumping,” said Mike Johnson, Chief of the Hydrology Bureau in the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. “This new USGS publication consolidates our understanding of the connection between aquifers and streams and provides a clear, thorough and up-to-date explanation of the tools and techniques used to evaluate streamflow depletion by wells. This report will be very useful to New Mexico’s water managers in guiding technical analysis, dispelling common misconceptions, and explaining these complex concepts to decision makers and the public.”
The report, which is a product of the USGS Groundwater Resources Program, is titled “Streamflow Depletion by Wells—Understanding and Managing the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow” and is available in print and online. [ http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1376/ ]
The Groundwater Resources Program provides objective scientific information and develops the interdisciplinary understanding necessary to assess and quantify the availability of the nation’s groundwater resources. The Program has been instrumental in documenting groundwater declines and in developing groundwater-flow models for use in sustainably managing withdrawals. The research and understanding developed through this program can provide water-resource managers with the tools and information needed to manage this important natural resource.
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communications and Publishing
12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119
Reston, VA 20192
Thursday, August 30, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — There is broad public support among Pennsylvania residents for increased renewable-energy generation, according to a study recently conducted by researchers in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences.
The research found that Pennsylvanians rate hydropower, solar electricity and wind power highest among electricity generation technologies, followed by nuclear power and natural gas. The results indicate that the average Pennsylvania household is willing to pay an extra $55 per year to increase renewable-energy production by an amount equal to 1 percent of Pennsylvania electricity consumption.
The study, “Pennsylvanians’ Attitudes Toward Renewable Energy,” was conducted by Clare Hinrichs, associate professor of rural sociology, and Richard Ready, professor of agricultural and environmental economics, with assistance from doctoral students John Eshleman and James Yoo. The project was funded by a grant from the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, a legislative agency of the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
“The dominant message that came across was that there is broad support for increasing the amount of renewable energy production in the state, and there is broad support for the state taking an active role in encouraging that,” Ready said. “The majority of Pennsylvanians support strengthening the state’s alternative-energy portfolio standard that mandates that a certain amount of electricity comes from renewable sources.”
Ready noted that researchers were surprised they did not find a single group of respondents who disagreed. Read more
By Paul B. Farrell | MarketWatch – Tue, Jul 24, 2012 12:03 AM EDT
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — “Is water the gold of the 21st century?” asks Fortune. Answer: Yes, water is the New Gold for investors this century.
In 2010 global water generated over a half trillion dollars of revenue. Global world population will explode from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, predicts the United Nations. And over one billion “lack access to clean drinking water.”
Climate and weather patterns are changing natural water patterns. And industrial pollution is making water a scarce commodity. So the good news is that huge “opportunities exist for businesses that can figure out how to keep the pipes flowing.”
Yes, it’s a hot market. So, expand your vision for a minute. How many bottles of water do you drink a week? How much did you use for a shower? When you flushed a toilet? Wash your car? Cooking? Lattes? And my guess is your city water bill’s gone up in recent years.
So ask yourself: What happens in the next 40 years when another three billion people come into the world? Imagine adding 75 million people every year, six million a month, 200,000 every day, all demanding more and more water to drink, to shower, to cook, to everything. All guzzling down the New Gold that’s getting ever scarcer.
Population, the explosive driver in the demand for ever-scarcer water
Now here’s the real scary stuff, the investor’s basic multiplier. In the 12 short years leading up to 2011 the world added a billion people. China’s population is now 1.3 billion. Plus they’ll add another 100 million in the next generation, while India adds 600 million according to United Nations experts. Read more
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Just after Pennsylvanians dried off from one of the wettest years on record, professional weather-watchers are becoming concerned about a potential drought in the central and eastern parts of the state.
The state’s Drought Task Force, which includes representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and other government agencies, will meet April 25 to discuss the effects of a winter with little snowfall and a drier-than-usual spring, officials said Tuesday.
It remains to be seen whether that leads to the DEP declaring a drought watch encouraging residents in certain areas to conserve water, as Maryland officials did last week for most of the Eastern Shore.
“At this point we’re not taking any action,” said Ruth Miller of PEMA, which helped direct relief efforts during last year’s historic flooding from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, which killed 18 people and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of homes and businesses.
Now, in contrast to those back-to-back disasters in August and September, the Susquehanna and Delaware rivers are flowing at record low rates for this time of year.
Susan Weaver, a DEP official who serves as the state drought coordinator, said officials assess data on precipitation, surface water, ground water and soil moisture in 90-day increments before deciding whether to issue a drought watch or a more emphatic drought warning.
“The tough part is what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Weaver said.
In August, “we issued a drought watch and I swear to God the next day it started to rain and it didn’t stop,” she said.
On Tuesday, the Susquehanna was flowing at around 14,000 cubic feet per second — less than 20 percent of its normal rate and the slowest flow since 1910, said hydrologist Charles Ross at the weather service office in State College. The average depth was barely half the normal seven feet, he said.
Still, “all it’s going to take is some average rain and we’ll probably be in pretty good shape,” Ross said.
The situation was similar on the Delaware, where the flow in Trenton, N.J., was measured at less than 4,000 cubic feet per second — the lowest for that date in the 98 years it has been measured.
“We’ve actually been setting records for a week or so,” said Clarke Rupert, spokesman for the Delaware River Basin Commission.
Susan Obleski, spokeswoman for the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, said dry conditions along streams that feed the river have led the commission to temporarily suspend permits that allow some natural gas drilling companies to use that water. So far, 14 permits held by eight companies have been suspended.
“They have multiple sources (of water), so it doesn’t mean that (a) particular company would shut down,” she said.
By Karl Blankenship
Loss could heavily impact wildlife habitat, state’s ability to meet TMDL goal
During the coming two decades, Pennsylvania could lose enough forest land to build a couple of large cities. The forest won’t be lost in a single large chunk, but as thousands of small sites that are cleared to drill natural gas wells and connected with hundreds of miles of new pipelines.
While those impacts will be scattered across the landscape, their cumulative impact on forest habitats could be severe, and it could also complicate the state’s efforts to meet its nutrient and sediment reduction obligations under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load, or pollution diet.
“It’s not so much that people know it would keep the TMDL from being met,” said Nels Johnson, director of conservation programs with The Nature Conservancy in Pennsylvania. “It’s that no one knows whether or not this really threatens the state’s efforts to meet the TMDL.”
Much of the concern about environmental impacts related to the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom has been related to the water quality impacts of hydraulic fracking, the process of injecting huge amounts of water and chemicals under high pressure deep into the ground to break apart rock and access gas.
Johnson led a team that tackled a different question – how the drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation could affect land use and, ultimately, wildlife habitats in Pennsylvania.
By using information about the depth and thickness of the Marcellus formation in different areas and a variety of other variables, they developed a model to project where the 60,000 wells expected to be drilled in the next two decades will go.
The analysis projects that about 60 percent of the wells will be drilled on forest land – the dominant land cover over much of the Marcellus Shale in the state.
A key factor that affects how much forest will be directly affected by drilling is the number of wells drilled on each drilling pad. A typical pad is about 3 acres but requires about six additional acres for roads and other related infrastructure. Right now, the average is less than two wells per pad, Johnson said, but he expects that to increase to between 4 and 10 wells per pad over time.
While scattered pads may not seem to have great impact, the analysis estimates that, across Pennsylvania, 38,000-90,000 acres of forest may ultimately be cleared for wells seeking to tap the Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies the western and northern portions of the state. Another 60,000-150,000 acres of forest could be lost for new pipelines.
“It’s a cumulative impact,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, that’s why we did this – because we wanted to have a better understanding of the cumulative impact, and how worried we should be about this.”
Pennsylvania’s large tracts of intact forests are important for an array of wildlife, from brook trout to forest interior birds. Forest birds such as the scarlet tanager, which have declined in many areas, have generally held their own in Pennsylvania’s large forests.
That could change as forests are chopped up for wells and pipelines. Many predators, from blue jays to raccoons, thrive along forest edges, from which they forage into the woods, picking off birds or the eggs of wood thrush, ovenbirds and other species that normally rely on large forests for refuge. Not only will forests be directly lost to drill pads and pipelines, but forests near those opening will be rendered uninhabitable for many species.
But the analysis also raises a concern for Chesapeake cleanup efforts. The conservancy estimates that about 46 percent of the drilling would take place within the Bay watershed. That suggests the forest loss within the watershed portion of Pennsylvania could be between 45,000-110,000 acres.
For comparison, that’s enough land to build between 1 to 2.5 District of Columbias.
Because forests absorb more nutrients and retain more sediment than other land uses, their loss could result in more of those pollutants reaching local streams.
Assuming those forests are converted to meadow, and applying loading rates derived from the Bay Program model, rough estimates suggest it could increase the amount of nitrogen runoff reaching local streams between 30,000-80,000 pounds a year; while phosphorus could increase between 15,000-40,000 pounds; and sediment could increase between 18 million to 45 million pounds. The variation depends on whether the amount of forest lost was at the low, or high end of the conservancy’s estimates.
Right now, the land use changes are not included in the state’s watershed implementation plan, which shows how it plans to meet nutrient and sediment limits set in the TMDL.
Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said sediment and erosion control guidelines would require best management practices to control runoff and well sites would need to be re-vegetated.
Johnson said that, as a practical matter, it is difficult to reforest areas disturbed for drilling as companies need to maintain access to wells and pipelines. Further, a recent study showed that reforestation generally wasn’t taking place at drilling sites, he said.
Katherine Antos, water quality team leader with the EPA’s Bay Program Office in Annapolis, said state pollution limits set in the TMDL were based on land uses in place in 2010. “If there are any changes to that, any increased loads or new sources, states have to be able to offset those increases,” she said.
Antos said the EPA is currently reviewing offset programs for all states in the watershed.
Harry Campbell, a scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said concerns about the impacts related to drilling activities on the Bay TMDL were among the reasons that it and several other organizations petitioned the federal government last year seeking the development of an Environmental Impact Statement to examine the full range of Marcellus drilling impacts in the state.
“We just don’t know enough about all this to get a handle on what the potential impacts are,” he said. “If we don’t have that, then we are flying blind.”
That petition is still pending.
Meanwhile, Johnson said the conservancy has been using its analyses to work with drilling companies to encourage drilling more wells at existing pads to reduce forest loss. It’s also integrating more habitat data into its model to help steer drilling away from sensitive areas. Companies have been “pretty interested,” he said. “We’re pretty confident it is going to help, but we know it is not going to eliminate impacts.”
Contact: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA and GSA Recognize the Newest Electronics Certified Recycling Facility
America Recycles Day encourages recommitment to reducing, recycling, and reusing
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (November 15, 2011) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. General Services Administration recognized AERC/Com-Cycle at an event today for becoming the region’s newest electronics Certified Responsible Recycler (R2) facility.
Today’s America Recycles event at AERC/Com-Cycle’s Allentown facility highlights EPA’s partnership with industry aimed at promoting environmentally-sound management of used electronics, and encouraging businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers. As an R2 certified electronics recycler, AERC/Com-Cycle operates all its facilities in accordance with the most stringent certification standard in the electronics recycling industry.
See Read More.
There are two existing domestic third-party electronics recycling certification standards, R2 and E-Stewards.
For more information on the EPA and industry collaboration go to: http://www.epa.gov/electronicsstrategy
For more information on GSA’s electronic stewardship goals and promoting federal agencies’ purchasing Environmentally Preferable Products go to: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/234565
For more information on where you and how to recycle go to: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/rrr/recycle.htm or www.earth911.com
To locate a list of Responsible Recycling (R2) Certified Electronics Recyclers go to: http://www.r2solutions.org/index.php?submenu=Recyclers&src=gendocs&ref=R2CertifiedRecyclers&category=Main
To locate a list of e-Stewards Certified Electronics Recyclers go to:
(Note: Brian Oram is a charter member of the Carbon County Groundwater Guardians.)
Citizens – there are more private wells than public water supplies in Pennsylvania. In many regions, the natural gas companies have conducted baseline testing and have returned the data to you. The problem is that the industry has the data and can easily compile, but for citizens they are lacking an explanation of the data and it is not being compiled. We need to work together to protect our groundwater data.
To help – send NO Money – All that is being asked is as follows:
1. Send a copy of your water quality data or host a community meeting where the water quality data could be compiled.
To request a community meeting or presentation on “Getting the Waters Tested- The Marcellus Shale Factor” or the “Community Groundwater / Surfacewater Database” – email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put Citizen Database in Subject.
2. Release the data to the Citizens Groundwater / Surfacewater Database. Here is the information sheet. The database will only include the data and No personal information.
3. Email the information to the addresses above or send a hardcopy to
Mr. Brian Oram, PG
Citizen Outreach Program
15 Hillcrest Drive
Dallas, PA 18612
4. You get a review of your data for free and you can be sure your data will help track water quality change in the region.
5. Private Well Owner Survey – Funded by Mr. Brian Oram. Please participate – the survey results in be published in the New Free Guidebook for Private Well Owners
This survey is part of the efforts of Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist, and owner of B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc to help educate and inform the community. The survey will not be published and all information is confidential. Part of this survey will be used to create a new booklet that helps educate private well owners and policy makers in our community. This survey is not funded by any outside company or organization and solely funded by Mr. Brian Oram.
Please act now.
Thanks for your consideration
Brian Oram, Professional Geologist, Soils Scientist, Licensed Well Driller
My Blog Site – http://pennsylvania-solutions.blogspot.com
Free Outreach to Private Well Owners – http://www.water-research.net
Reported on Friday, May 20, 2011
By LIZ PINKEY email@example.com
Fifty six properties in the borough of Tamaqua have been identified as having active or once active illegal sewer connections to the Wabash Creek.
Those that were once active may need further investigation to determine if they will need to be addressed. Council president Micah Gursky announced the findings of a recent study at this week’s borough council meeting, stating that property owners have already been notified by certified mail.
“As sad as it is that we have illegal discharge, it’s nice to see a list finally verifying who is illegally connected,” said Gursky. “There have always been rumors.”
The list is now available to the general public and can be viewed at the borough building.
“This is just the beginning,” said Gursky. “There are a lot of folks who have to connect and a lot of work to be done over the next several months to connect them.”
The majority of the properties are located along S. Lehigh, W. Broad, Rowe, S. Railroad and Nescopec streets. Gursky added that
The borough has until August to address the problems to avoid further issues with DEP, which has already cited the borough for the illegal discharge. Property owners have 60 days to connect to the sewage system.
Borough manager Kevin Steigerwalt asked borough residents for their continued cooperation in the matter.
“So far, the people have have contacted us with questions have been very cooperative. We appreciate that,” he said.
The borough does have a revolving loan program that could be available to property owners who need financial assistance to have the work completed. More information on that program is available from the borough.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Communication & Grants
Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
1700 Hawk Mountain Road, Kempton, PA 19529
Visit Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Kempton on May 21 and 22 between 10 am and 4 pm and select from 225 species of native plants, flowers, ferns, vines, ground cover, shrubs and trees during the Sanctuary’s annual two-day Native Plant Sale. All proceeds benefit Hawk Mountain conservation programs, and the event features a strong educational component with friendly service by the Sanctuary’s native plant volunteers.
Children’s activities will be held both days: a Noon program to learn about butterflies and host plants, and a 2 pm Praying Mantis Hunt. Other Saturday programs for visitors of all ages include an 11 am Butterfly Walk, a 1 pm Fern Walk and a 3 pm How Natives Benefit Wildlife Walk. On Sunday, the Wildlife Benefits Walk will be held at 11, Flower Photography Tips at 1, and a 3 pm guided Fern Walk.
Both days also will feature live raptor programs at 11 am and 2 pm, and as always, the trails and scenic overlooks are open to all for a modest trail fee. Indoors, a selection of native plant gardening books will be available for sale, as well as the Mountain Bookstore’s usual selection of field guides on butterflies, birds and amphibians.
The message during the sale is simple but direct: Native plants benefit wildlife. That means even if you’re not a gardener, you can still drop by and learn how anyone can help save Pennsylvania’s native ecosystems just by introducing the right kind of plants—those native to our area. Native plants require little maintenance, attract bird and butterflies, and don’t require dangerous pesticides … So why not check it out and go native?
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, www.hawkmountain.org, or 610-756-6961
The Carbon County Department of Solid Waste has announced that it will hold its spring 2011 electronic recycling event on April 25 and 26 at the Lower Towamensing Township building.
The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., on April 25, and noon to 6 p.m. on April 26.
During the two-day event, Carbon officials and Advanced Green Solutions, will accept electronics at no charge to Carbon County residents. Acceptable materials include: VCRs, DVD players, radios, stereo equipment, computer towers, printers, scanners, keyboards, laptops, hard drives, mainframe and telecom equipment, application (OEM) equipment, circuit boards of any kind, fax machines, typewriters, and telephones. Computer monitors will be accepted by Advanced Green Solutions with a $7 charge; TVs and air conditioners will be accepted with a $20 charge.
There will also be collection boxes for old cell phones and printer ink jet cartridges. Household appliances will not be accepted.
For more information, contact the Department of Solid Waste at (610) 852-5111.
Reported on Saturday, March 5, 2011