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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: January 19, 2011
CONTACT: Rick Chormann (603) 271-1975

NH Groundwater Level Data for New Bedrock Wells Now on the Web

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Geological Survey (NHGS), a bureau of the Department of Environmental Services (DES), continues to expand its statewide network of observation wells to better monitor groundwater levels. Monthly measurements representing water levels in a number of new bedrock wells can now be accessed via the internet at http://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/StateMaps/NH.html as a result of a cooperative effort between DES and the US Geological Survey. These wells were specifically drilled by NHGS to enhance long-term monitoring of the bedrock aquifer, the source of water for most private well owners in the state. Before this action was taken, groundwater levels in bedrock were only being monitored in a few locations.

Each well serves as an indicator of hydrologic conditions, registering changes in the amount of water stored underground at a particular time. This information can be used to compare conditions today with those of the past or to predict future conditions. For example, such comparisons enable the severity of extended dry spells or full-fledged droughts to be assessed so that appropriate actions can be implemented, helping to insure that critical needs for water can be met. The record of water level changes over time not only reveals general trends but also contains detailed information about the role that groundwater plays in the hydrologic cycle. Therefore, the New Hampshire Groundwater Level Monitoring Network will become increasingly important in addressing concerns about the sustainability of future water resources.

To ensure long-term access to the well network infrastructure, NHGS directed the new bedrock wells to be installed on state-owned or managed lands. Because the primary goal of this network is to monitor background, or non-stressed groundwater conditions, the site selection process gave priority to undeveloped lands such as parks. The Department of Resources and Economic Development was a willing partner and helped identify relatively secluded locations where drilling would not interfere with park activities or infrastructure and not be affected by water withdrawals or other man-made influences.

The monitoring design included installation of a well "nest", where two companion wells were drilled to different depths at each monitoring site. This arrangement allows the vertical movement of groundwater to be detected (e.g., from shallow to deep or vice versa). The next step is to install instruments known as digital data loggers that will automatically measure and record groundwater levels at short time intervals so that an almost continuous chart of changes can be created and displayed on the above website. The data from the groundwater monitoring network provides a unique opportunity to encourage residents and visitors alike to a take a greater interest in actively monitoring and managing the state's water resources. For information on this project, please contact NHGS at (603) 271-1973 or (603) 271-1975.

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