Monitoring groundwater resources for Municipalities - Case Study

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Courtesy of Van Essen Instruments

Background
The City of Tucson is located in the Sonoran Desert in southwest United States (U.S.), approximately 100 km north of the Mexico-U.S. border. Tucson Water operates more than 215 groundwater wells, covering more than 300 square miles, providing more than 37 billion gallons (140 million m3) of potable water to its 730,000 inhabitants each year. The region receives only 12 inches of rain annually; therefore, in order to meet demands, Tucson Water utilizes water from various sources. The Sweetwater Wetlands and Recharge Facility is a water treatment facility and an urban wildlife habitat.

The wetlands and recharge operations are one of Tucson's more important facets of the city's Reclaimed Water System. Water treated at the Wetlands filters through sediments beneath the recharged basins and replenishes the local aquifer. Reclaimed water is the product of an advanced treatment process which treats wastewater. This treatment process produces water ideal for plant irrigation and other commercial/industrial uses. The nitrogen and phosphorous in the water provide excellent fertilizers for ornamental plants and turf grass. This reclaimed wastewater is recovered by extraction wells during periods of high reclaimed water demand and is distributed for reuse at the city's golf courses, parks, schools and other large turf irrigation areas. In 2009, by using reclaimed water for irrigation, Tucson Water saved 5.5 billion gallons (20 million m3) of drinking water; enough for 59,000 families for a year1.

Challenges
In the past, Tucson Water gathered information from wells on a monthly basis via manual water level meter readings and field samples. Challenges associated with these methods include:

  • finding cost-effective methods for obtaining groundwater measurements
  • obtaining accurate and reliable field measurements
  • recording seasonal variations in water levels due to rain events and pumping
  • maintaining data accuracy during user input
  • managing the volumes of water level data

Highlights:

  • Deployment of automated data acquisition sensors to support water supply studies
  • Cost-effective, frequent, long term monitoring data Diver dataloggers
  • Use of CTD-Diver is ideal for monitoring saline water conditions
  • Diver data will facilitate planning for future site upgrades

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