The objectives of the Groundwater Mapping and Education initiative are to create a community based watershed monitoring and protection program, collect information on the presence and behavior of aquifers in the Englishman River watershed, and define the interconnection between the aquifers and the Englishman River.
The initiative has been implemented in two phases. The first phase began in August 2009 and updated our knowledge about the aquifers in the surficial sediment deposits (sand and gravel), and characterized the dynamic flow of groundwater between the aquifer and the river concentrating on the lower portion of the watershed. This was completed in February 2012.
The second phase was initiated in 2015 to quantify and qualify the role of bedrock in the groundwater dynamics of the Englishman River watershed. Groundwater contribution in the watershed is thought to be significant, and bedrock is present across the whole watershed so understanding the interaction is important in defining the interconnection between aquifers and the Englishman River.
To accomplish this, data loggers have been installed in groundwater wells to record changes in groundwater levels. Data loggers have also been installed in the river in the vicinity of faults that intersect the river. The data loggers measure water levels upstream and downstream of the faults. Stream flow measurements are also taken upstream and downstream of the faults.The first 2 years of data show that during the summer months, 6% of the river's flow is lost through faults between the Englishman River Falls and the fish hatchery.
Together, the water levels and flow measurements determine if groundwater from the aquifers is flowing into the river through the faults, or if water is flowing out of the river through faults into the aquifers.
Both phases use a similar approach based on community involvement and aquifer monitoring. The local community was involved to save the large cost of having to install new wells for monitoring by using existing wells that owners volunteered. We believe that the long term health of watersheds depends on the stewardship of the people who live in them. By getting them involved, the community connects to its watershed, its complexity, and how it works. When we establish a connection we are more willing to modify behavior and management of the land after they appreciate direct connection between what happens at the surface and what happens in the subsurface, on their property, their neighbors property and their local environment.
We appreciate the support of the following sponsors: