Thousands of well reports are submitted by licensed water well contractors each year. As data steward, NHGS is responsible for performing data entry and quality control , and also assists the New Hampshire Water Well Board with reporting compliance issues. Currently, the database contains records for more than 115,000 wells that have been drilled and reported since1984.
From the outset, a sustained effort has been made to accurately locate each well on a map and store its location in digital form in a geographic information system (GIS). Originally this was accomplished by traditional map and compass techniques in the field and use of a digitizing tablet to obtain geographic coordinates for the point locations. The process of assigning geographic coordinates to a feature, such as a well, is called “georeferencing”. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was employed to georeference wells beginning in 1995. Since 2000, a desktop GIS methodhas been used instead, eliminating the labor-intensive and costly effort required to physically find each wellhead in the field. As a result of these combined efforts, more than 57,000 wells have been georeferenced, representing approximately 50% of the total number of reported wells. RSA 482-B was amended in 2007 so that drillers are now required to georeference the location of any new well using a handheld GPS unit and to report the coordinates directly on the well completion report form.
The data have a multitude of users and uses. Information on average well depths and yields in a specific neighborhood are helpful to drillers and their prospective customers when a new well is to be drilled or a pump replaced. Real estate agents and lending institutions commonly use the well data during the course of property transactions. NHGS uses the data extensively in the process of mapping surficial and bedrock geology. The data also are a key component of both groundwater quantity and groundwater quality assessments and aquifer mapping. Private sector hydrogeologic consultants find the data to be invaluable when siting new public drinking water supply wells and geotechnical engineers use the data when planning new construction projects. Ultimately, the data support a range of water resources and infrastructure planning activities and the development of public policy.
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