TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 1 – 7 August 2015

August 7, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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As I mentioned earlier, pickings are slim this week since I was in Honduras all week. More next week. Enjoy what’s here.

Here I am in one of my favorite places – the back of a Toyota 4×4 in Honduras. My favorite place is standing up behind the cab, clutching the roll bar as the truck rolls on down the road.


Click here to enjoy the weekly water news summary.

“TEAMWORK: People doing everything I tell them to do when I tell them to. ” - T-shirt, immigration line, Houston Intercontinental Airport


August 4, 2015 | Posted by Susan Scalia
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Featured Collection – Agricultural Hydrology and Water Quality:

Agriculture occupies 38% of the Earth’s land surface and is essential to providing adequate food supply for the world’s population. Decades of research have demonstrated the global agricultural footprint has a major influence on the flow, distribution, and quality of water. This featured collection examines the multifaceted ways in which agricultural influences water quality and agricultural practices can improve the quality of water draining from agricultural lands.  The following are some of the articles in the collection.

Buda et al. provide an introduction to agricultural water quality issues and provide an overview of the papers in the featured collection.

Williams et al. examine the influence of riparian seepage zones on nitrate variability to two agricultural headwater streams.

Mahl et al. and Davis et al. report on the ability of two-stage ditches to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment in agricultural streams.

Kalcic et al. present the results of interviews with farmers regarding their interest in targeting agricultural conservation practices to cost-effective locations.

McDowell et al. conduct a meta-analysis of three national databases to examine the relationships among soil, surface water, and groundwater concentrations of phosphorus.

McLellan et al. use a spatially explicit model, SPARROW, to evaluate how conservation practices may reduce nitrogen loses from row crop agriculture landscapes to streams.

Other Technical Papers:

Her et al. interpolate Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) digital elevation model (DEM) data to provide higher resolution data for hydrologic analysis.

Li et al. calculate the surface energy budget, mass balance, and resulting melt-runoff for a glacier on the Tibetan Plateau.

Carroll et al. calibrate a basin-scale groundwater model to remotely sensed estimates of groundwater evapotranspiration.

Yun and Qian present a hierarchical model for estimating long-term trend of atrazine concentration in surface water of the contiguous United States.

Gyawali et al. examine the influence of climatic and land use factors on changes in flow of Wisconsin streams.

The Depths of Hydraulic Fracturing and Accompanying Water Use Across the United States. by Robert B. Jackson, Ella R. Lowry, Amy Pickle, Mary Kang, Dominic DiGiulio, and Kaiguang Zhao. 2o15. ES & T, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01228

Download Acs%2Eest%2E5b01228

Reports highlight the safety of hydraulic fracturing for drinking water if it Untitledoccurs “many hundreds of meters to kilometers underground”. To our knowledge, however, no comprehensive analysis of hydraulic fracturing depths exists. Based on fracturing depths and water use for ?44?000 wells reported between 2010 and 2013, the average fracturing depth across the United States was 8300 ft (?2500 m). Many wells (6900; 16%) were fractured less than a mile from the surface, and 2600 wells (6%) were fractured above 3000 ft (900 m), particularly in Texas (850 wells), California (720), Arkansas (310), and Wyoming (300). Average water use per well nationally was 2?400?000 gallons (9?200?000 L), led by Arkansas (5?200?000 gallons), Louisiana (5?100?000 gallons), West Virginia (5?000?000 gallons), and Pennsylvania (4?500?000 gallons). Two thousand wells (?5%) shallower than one mile and 350 wells (?1%) shallower than 3000 ft were hydraulically fractured with >1 million gallons of water, particularly in Arkansas, New Mexico, Texas, Pennsylvania, and California. Because hydraulic fractures can propagate 2000 ft upward, shallow wells may warrant special safeguards, including a mandatory registry of locations, full chemical disclosure, and, where horizontal drilling is used, predrilling water testing to a radius 1000 ft beyond the greatest lateral extent.

Here is a story on the report.

Let the arguments begin!

“What surprised me is how often shallow fracturing occurs with large volumes of chemicals and water.” - Robert Jackson, from the story.

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 25 – 31 July 2015

July 31, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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eltI am headed for Honduras for 8 days; Tweets and posts will be very limited next week. I’ll be checking on the completion of one water project (El Tamarindo – left) and scouting out some new ones.

It will be about 10 degrees F (5.6 degrees C) cooler in San Pedro Sula than in Corvallis, where it is supposed to be about 104 F (40 C) today. But the humidity in the former will make it worse than the latter, comfort-wise. Besides, SPS’s murder rate has Corvallis beat by a country mile (1.6 km). Make that many country miles.

Today I thought I would feature ‘Florida Funnies’, in particular a manatee box and a proposed new state motto. Click here and scroll down to the ‘Florida’ category to see the origins of these two items.




Apologies to my old New York neighbors, most of whom are now Floridians.

Click here to read the weekly water news summary.

“August in Florida is God’s way of reminding us who’s in charge.” ? Blaize Clement, Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 18 – 24 July 2015

July 24, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The picture below has achieved urban legend status in Albuquerque, NM. Yes, that’s the city to which the caption refers and whose ‘skyline’ (c. 1960s) you can see on the ‘shore’. The foothills of the Sandia Mountains, east of the city, provide the backdrop.


This graphic was part of a promotional campaign in the 1969s and 1970s by boosters to lure businesses and others (read: wealthy retirees) to the Land of Enchantment’s largest city.The picture and some text (I assume) was published in media in the eastern and midwestern USA.

The ‘lake’ alluded to is none other that the aquifer system underlying Albuquerque, which provided abundant good-quality water to the city and environs. Groundwater was the city’s sole source of M&I water at the time, a condition that existed until the past few years when the Rio Grande was utilized for some (about 40%) of the water supply. The change was motivated by a seminal study in the early 1990s that demonstrated that the aquifer system was not nearly as extensive or productive as once believed. Some land subsidence was also detected and arsenic in the groundwater also became an issue.

Read more about Albuquerque’s water supply here.

Click here for the weekly water news summary!

“Give me a one-handed economist. All my economists say, ‘On the one hand…on the other hand’.” - Harry Truman [Note: if Harry were alive today, he might want to substitute 'scientist' or any number of occupations.]

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 11 – 17 July 2015

July 17, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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What with all the water news this wee, what event Tn-p_lorri_fullframe_bwtakes priority?NASA’s Pluto (left) flyby and the remarkable pictures taken of the erstwhile planet and its largest moon, Charon (rightnh-charon).

Perhaps there will be a renewed campaign to restore Pluto to its ‘planet’ status.

And maybe it has water!

If that’s not enough for NASA, consider that the agency  produced new estimates of the global water budget. 

Good week!

Click here for the weekly water news summary.


“There are three life stages: 1) Youth; 2) Middle Age; and 3) ‘Hey, man, you’re lookin’ good!” - Unknown

nasabalancesThe following message from Tammy Belcher of RTI (Research Triangle institute), a Department of Labor contractor, is directed to all of you who consider yourselves groundwater or surface water hydrologists:

Hydrologists:  Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

RTI and USDOL request your assistance to ensure that ‘hydrologist’ is defined accurately. Please consider participating in this important program. I will.

Read below or download one of the following.

Word: Download Volunteer_Request_for_Hydrologist

PDF: Download Volunteer_Request_for_Hydrologist 

Please forward to your colleagues.

Thank. you!


Dear Colleagues:

The O*NET Data Collection Program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, is seeking the input of expert Hydrologists. As the nation’s most comprehensive source of occupational data, O*NET is a free resource for millions of job seekers, employers, veterans, educators, and students at

You have the opportunity to participate in this important initiative as it will help ensure that the complexities of your profession are described accurately in the O*NET Database for the American public for career exploration and job analysis.

Hydrologists:  Research the distribution, circulation, and physical properties of underground and surface waters; and study the form and intensity of precipitation, its rate of infiltration into the soil, movement through the earth, and its return to the ocean and atmosphere.

You are considered an Occupation Expert if you meet the following criteria:

  • At least 5 years of experience with the occupation of Hydrologists. Includes those who are now supervising, teaching, or training IF you have at least one year of practice during your career.
  • Currently active in the occupation of Hydrologists (practicing, supervising, teaching and/or training) and based in the U.S.

If you meet these criteria and are interested in participating as an occupation expert, please email or call Tammy Belcher at the O*NET Operations Center at RTI International (the O*NET data collection contractor) 877-233-7348 ext. 119 or by 17 August 2015 and provide the following:

  • Name/ # years of experience
  • Address with city and state
  • Daytime phone number
  • Email address
  • Do you have at least one year of practice in the occupation and are you still active?

Process and Participation Incentive: 
A random sample of experts responding to this request will be invited to complete a set of questionnaires (paper or online versions available). $40.00 in cash and a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Department of Labor will be included with the questionnaires.

We encourage you to consider helping to keep information about your profession accurate and current for the benefit of our colleagues and the nation. Thank you very much for your support of DOL’s O*NET program.

Tammy Belcher


“Water is the driving force of all nature.” - Leonardo da Vinci

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 4 – 10 July 2015

July 10, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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callWe can all breathe more easily now. Why? A nuclear (unclear?) agreement between the US and Iran? Settlement of the Greek debt crisis?  Removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol grounds in South Carolina?

No, something much bigger than the above has finally been resolved without bloodshed or acrimony. The water theft spat Tom-selleck-water-theft-lawsuit-3e6c3181ee91dcaabetween Tom Selleck and the Calleguas Municipal Water District has apparently been settled to the satisfaction of all involved, subject to approval by the District’s board next week.

Still waiting for the standard statement from the publicist: “If I have hurt anyone or broken the law, I apologize. I did not know that I did not own the water and that filling up a tanker truck from a fire hydrant and transporting said water across District lines was not allowed. Settlement of this unfortunate misunderstanding will allow me to spend more time with my family…”

Read about it here and here.

And click here to access the weekly water news summary.

“There’s no system foolproof enough to defeat a sufficiently great fool.’ - Edward Teller

Disclosure Notice: the publisherMcDonald & Woodwardsent me a review copy. I’ve since purchased an additional copy.

Caveat Emptor: In early 2014 a publisher’s representative told me that if a paperback copy has a brown margin on the back cover instead of a green one, then that book is from the first printing and has a lot of typos. My copy from was a brown one, and they swapped it for a green one. Since the book has been out for two years I doubt this is still a problem.

John A. Conners, fellow New Yorker (Syracuse area) has done us all a great service: he’s written a general-purpose groundwater book, Groundwater for the 21st Century: A Primer for Citizens of Planet Earth,without differential equations! In other words, it’s a book for the great unwashed (a joke, gentle readers) who are not hydrogeologists or groundwater professionals but who want or need to know a little bit about groundwater.

Writing such a book is indeed a daunting task that few have attempted, especially on this scale. With groundwater one is trying to describe something unseen, so it is far too easy to say ‘I need to explain this concept in more detail’ again and again until the book is encyclopedic. Yes, like Conners’ book: 634 pages in paperback (but only about $30 on as of today). The closest book to  Conners’ book is Michael Price’s excellent Introducing Groundwater.

But Conners’ tome does not deal exclusively with the ‘secret, occult’ world of ‘underground aquifers’ or ‘subterranean groundwater’ (as some experts are wont to say). In 634 pages he takes us over, under, around and through Earth science, defined very broadly (okay, there is no ocean science or paleontology): rocks and minerals; geomorphology (his specialty, I believe), hydrology, plate tectonics, structural geology, geochemistry, and more.

As usual, what follows is my usual stream-of-consciousness approach to reviewing which is why I don’t write books.

What I Really Liked
What I really liked, in no particular order:

1) Graphics – lots of photos and diagrams

2) Aphorisms galore!

3) Thumbnail sketches of each chapter

4) References – hundreds! Not just publications, but websites, blogs, organizations, resources, etc.

5) Great index and appendices with conversions, EPA MCLs

6) Boxes with case studies and numerical problems

7) Contamination and pollution are differentiated (p. 42)

8) Broad coverage, not just of groundwater, but of ancillary topics

9) Good writing, few typos

10) Unexpected chapters on Contemporary Groundwater Supply IssuesFacing the Challenge and Perspectives on Tomorrow

11) I learned what a ‘beheaded aquifer’ is – Figure 6.8, p. 165


Several Things I Did Not Like and Suggestions
1) Number all equations. Makes it easier to refer to them.

2) Use MLT [mass-length-time] or FLT [force-length-time] system to indicate dimensions. For example, velocity has dimensions of [L/T], the hydraulic gradient has dimensions of [L/L] or [1]. Using this convention might entail more text (fodder for an appendix) but it would be useful for non-professionals, who need to have some exposure to this stuff. As an aside, I have found that even science/engineering undergrads and even graduate students can be pretty ignorant of units and dimensions.

3) The parameter k is the permeability, also called the intrinsic or specific permeability; K is the hydraulic conductivity. It reflects the properties of the medium and the fluid. It has dimensions of [L/T], like velocity, but it is not a velocity. In the old days, we used units of [gpd/ft**2]. If you break that unit down dimensionally, you have L***3/T(L**2) = L/T, or a velocity dimension Conners sometimes (p. 195) calls it permeability. The bullets on page 176 might lead some to think it’s a velocity or a volume. Some clarification might be wise here. The meinzer can be removed; it’s archaic.

4) Conners does something that I don’t like, but it is a necessary evil. He knowingly alternates between SI and English units, because, well, both are used today. He eschews the use of using both units at once and putting one in ( ) because he states that ‘…an abundance of parentheses tends to impair readability’ (page x). That might be true.

5) On page 481, he states ‘ Groundwater in particular continues to be treated as private property in most Western states.’ That’s misleading if he is referring to ownership. Most Western states treat groundwater as being owned by the state or its citizens. Texas and California are exceptions. In fact, groundwater is more likely to be treated as private property in the Eastern states. However, the right to water is essentially a property right.

6) There is some confusion when it comes to groundwater flow. Groundwater does not necessarily flow from high to low pressure [page 101], nor from high to low elevation.  It flows from high to low hydraulic head, where hydraulic head is the sum of elevation head (height of the measuring point relative to an arbitrary horizontal datum, such as mean sea level) and pressure head (in a piezometer or well, the height of the column of water above the measuring point). All three heads are expressed in units of length [L], and represent potential energy per unit weight of fluid. Kinetic energy is often neglected in groundwater, because of low velocities. And the hydraulic head is not important in determining flow; it’s the change in hydraulic head with distance (the gradient, sometimes designated as ‘i’) that drives flow.

7) Changes in head should be designated as ?h (or ?H). That avoids confusion about whether it should be ?h/L ( = i) or just h/L (head divided by a length). See the two equations on p. 195: one has (h), then below that it becomes (?H). Also, in the box on pages 188-189: ?h/L = i, which is correct. The correct designation for i is shown on p. 181, then below that it reverts to i =h/L. Also: h is sometimes head (p. 186) but sometimes it is used as a change in head (p. 182).

8) On page 181 at the top there is confusion about hydraulic head and pressure. a few lines later it is stated ‘The change in elevation from one location to another is the hydraulic gradient.‘ That’s untrue. A few lines down, Conners says ‘This equation represents Darcy’s Law.’ The equation above that is not Darcy’s Law, but an equation for the hydraulic gradient.

9) Minor – ‘Thiem’ is misspelled on p. 240 and in the index; The Table of Contents should have the subheadings. A List of Figures would be helpful.

A Primer for Whom?
The title and length of the book beg the questions: 1) is this book a primer? 2) who is the audience?

A 634-page book is not a primer. I think A Sourcebook on Groundwater might have been a more descriptive title. But the size of the book is a plus, IMHO. Others might be intimidated.

So who’s the audience? I see several:

1) People who need to know something about groundwater but don’t need all the real quantitative stuff: planners; economists; journalists; politicians/legislators and their staffs; environmental organizations; NGO, INGO, and GO folks; attorneys; policy types; water and wastewater managers and other water professionals who don’t deal directly with groundwater;

2) Students without heavy-duty math and physics but who want or need an introductory groundwater course. This book would be perfect for our OSU water resources policy and management grad students who want to know some groundwater but don’t need the equations.

3) Those (me!) who want a reference or source book.

4) Intelligent laypersons who wish to know something about groundwater or are just curious about it.

John told me that the publisher did not want to market it as a textbook. I actually think that was a mistake. It is hard to imagine that the ‘ordinary’ person who wants to know a bit about groundwater would purchase a copy.

Here is a review by Tara L. Root from the September-October 2014 issue of Groundwater Download Root-2014-Groundwater

Summary and Recommendation – Buy It!
I liked the book a lot and heartily recommend it. Most of the complaints above are not serious and are due to carelessness, not incompetence. Groundwater cognoscenti will understand what Conners is trying to say, but neophytes will get confused or worse. In a revision careful attention should be paid to Sections 6.6 and 6.7.

Practitioners will be pleasantly surprised – great source book.

“Humans build their settlements around consumption of fossil water long buried in the Earth, and these societies, being based on temporary resources, face the problem of being temporary themselves.” - Charles Bowden, 1977 (from the reviewed book, p. 457)

TGIF! Weekly Water News Summary, 27 June – 3 July 2015

July 3, 2015 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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DofIHere in western Oregon we have drought, fireworks, 100 degree temperatures, 4th of July weekend, and newly-legalized marijuana. A recipe for …celebration? We’ll see.

In the meantime, curl up with your favorite beverage and read the Declaration of Independence - even if you’re not a US citizen. It’s fewer than 1500 words and what’s there might surprise you.

Download Usdeclar

Regardless of your nationality, have a great weekend and travel safely.

Click here to read the weekly water news summary.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” - Second sentence, US Declaration of Independence, 1776. 



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