How do you monitor groundwater level?
Monitoring groundwater level is an essential process in order to control the extraction levels and minimize the risk of depleting aquifers. Aquifers are large pools of groundwater that sit below the unsaturated zone, these are where groundwater is typically extracted from to be used in a variety of different industries.
Groundwater level monitoring can also help environmentalists to predict changes in groundwater and how aquifers are likely to react to changes in seasons and temperatures. This knowledge is valuable for researchers to understand the levels of water that are available to be used and how much should be left in place. If environmentalists have enough data they can create models to predict the best locations to extract water from aquifers without depleting them altogether.
What is groundwater used for?
Groundwater is used as an important source of water for a number of applications, this includes drinking water, manufacturing, irrigation and agriculture. Groundwater is an essential source of water and provides drinking water for up to 50% of the population. In severe drought when other water supplies are low this can increase even further. Without correct and reliable monitoring groundwater sources can be depleted and leave many people without a vital source of water. If managed properly and not over extracted or contaminated, groundwater replenishes itself and can continue to be a vital source of water for many people worldwide.
Groundwater level monitoring techniques
Groundwater levels can be monitored manually or automatically using two different processes. Each of these processes are discussed below.
Manual groundwater level monitoring
Manual groundwater monitoring uses a dipper inserted into a well or bore hole. Dippers use sound or vibrations to indicate when they reach the groundwater. The reading can then be displayed on the dipper if it has a digital display or on a more basic level read from the tape inserted into the ground with the dipper. This type of monitoring is time and labour intensive and can only be used in areas with good accessibility that do not require regular update readings. However, it is also cheap and easy to maintain, for irregular monitoring manual groundwater level monitoring works well and is a good low cost solution.
Automatic groundwater level monitoring
Automatic groundwater level monitoring systems are able to remotely transmit data from the monitor to a database where the information can be securely stored and accessed by the data analyser. This type of groundwater level monitoring system enables companies to have a clearer more accurate picture of how the groundwater levels fluctuate depending on factors such as rainfall, climate temperatures and extraction rates. The process is very similar to manual groundwater level monitoring but the monitoring system remains fixed in place and it has the technology to transmit data. Using regular readings companies can make forecasts and create models to predict how other aquifers will react in similar conditions and locations. This form of monitoring is more expensive to initially install but provides a clearer picture and more regular readings. If the automatic groundwater monitoring system is used over a substantial period of time it may need to be replaced or maintained to avoid inaccurate readings.
As well as monitoring the level of groundwater the quality must also be regularly sampled and monitored. Groundwater can be easily contaminated by a number of different incidents including pesticides from agriculture, leachate from landfill sites, oil spills, or industrial accidents and illegal dumping of waste into the environment. Groundwater travels slowly and often across great distances. During the traveling process it can come into contact with many possible sources of contamination.
It is essential that groundwater is monitored and sampled to avoid passing any contamination into the food chain or drinking water. If an aquifer is found to be contaminated it will need to be remediated and cleaned using several different processes to remove the contaminants.
QED groundwater monitoring solutions
At QED environmental systems we have a number of groundwater monitoring solutions. These include systems to monitor groundwater levels and groundwater quality. Our experts are on hand to help you find the best solution to fit with your individual requirements. Find out more about our groundwater monitoring solutions or contact us for more information and advice.