Land & Water by Terry Stokka

Aero electronic magnetic mapping

Coming soon to a water basin near you

The Upper Black Squirrel Creek Groundwater Management District is addressing water conservation and quality with an emphasis on collecting data. Dave Duran, president of the UBSGMD, said the district has contracted to begin Aero Electronic Magnetic Mapping in June of this year.

AEM mapping is a method involving helicopters that tow equipment capable of utilizing magnetic pulses to map the water table and geology underground. Duran said, “It provides a three-dimensional mapping of what water exists at a given time and at what levels.”

In the past, state-required modeling has been done whenever there is new development or a water rights change. “That’s been one of our frustrations is that the modeling is in the eye of the modeler and not always the reality of what happens on the ground. It’s best guess science,” Duran said. For example, he said there have been models since 2009 with a pending replacement plan. “We’ve been through extensive litigation and that never seems to quell anything,” he said. “It doesn’t help with the water. It might be a short-term fix to try to make something right, but it’s just a never-ending deal. So we’ve decided on scientific data collection.”   

The district is anticipating the process will result in a view of 1,200 feet deep to allow them to see all of the Denver Basin aquifer. “That will be very helpful for the politicians who make land use decisions, helping them to know where we are with our water and how long it will last.”

Aqua Geo Frameworks, a Wyoming company, will perform the mapping project for Upper Black Squirrel. They have completed multiple studies all over the country, including extensive work in Nebraska.

“There is quite a large logistical protocol to getting this set up and the mapping laid out,” Duran said. The mapping will run from Squirrel Creek Road north in the basin to Highway 24, just south of Peyton. The east-west boundaries will follow the designated basin boundaries. Duran said to his knowledge there have never been any AEM mapping studies completed in Colorado.

Prior to the start of the project, Duran said the community and surrounding areas will be informed of the timeline and process.

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