Sitka Technology Group

How Monitoring and Modifying Water Usage Can Reverse Aquifer Depletion

Underground, freshwater reservoirs all over the United States are at risk of being depleted too quickly due to unsustainable practices. Not only do depleted aquifers have negative implications for the populations that use that water source for drinking, bathing, etc., but it will impact crop production in these areas as well.

Olsson, an esteemed Sitka partner specializing in engineering and design work, was contracted by the Twin Platte Natural Resources District (TPNRD) to devise a plan which would support better management of groundwater resources in west central Nebraska. In addition to their own in-house water resources scientists and cloud-based platform, Groundwater Evaluation Toolbox (GET), Olsson enlisted help from University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) computer programming and engineering students to address this important issue.

Specifically, TPNRD was concerned about long-term depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, which is critical to the economy and ecology of the entire High Plains region. They needed technological support that could monitor something as complex as an entire aquifer system.

The students from UNL designed a sensor to record groundwater levels which connects to an online dashboard, allowing TPNRD to easily monitor fluctuations. Paige Wireless provided connectivity support between the groundwater sensors and the online dashboard using a bi-directional, low-power wireless network.

Olsson’s GET was employed to evaluate potential changes in groundwater condition before implementing management adjustments. This gave TPNRD the ability to save resources, time, and, most importantly, water.

We were brought on to provide a data storage and management solution. Using our Microsoft Azure-powered environmental data platform, GeoOptix®, Olsson scientists are now able to draw more thorough conclusions based on the data that is being collected from the hydrologic system.

Microsoft Azure and the GeoOptix platform will provide the raw data processing horsepower and scale required to manage and make sense of the information streaming off thousands of wells, all in real time. We’re very excited to be working with our friends at TPNRD, Olsson, and Paige Wireless on revolutionary technologies that will make a real difference for many years to come.

The capacity to monitor heterogeneous data in a centralized platform is crucial for TPNRD’s goal of improving water management practices and, ultimately, better aquifer health. As new wells are brought online with this low-cost monitoring solution, TPNRD will be increasingly equipped to measure progress against their IMP objectives. And if all goes accordingly, this solution could be adopted by other water districts facing similar challenges.

To learn more about the great work Olsson, Paige Wireless, the students at UNL, and other partners have achieved with TPNRD, read this in-depth write-up over on Olsson’s website.

Interested in a hands-on tutorial to see what our GeoOptix could provide your agency? Click here to schedule an online demo with me!

Keith Steele