UW Researchers Reveal Secrets of Subsurface Water Storage
In recent years, an intrepid team of University of Wyoming researchers conducted a multi-site project to explore subsurface hydrology in and around the Laramie Range and expand our understanding of this critical water source for the western U.S.
In the semi-arid western United States, every drop of water counts, especially as a growing population and climate change stress the region’s resources. At the University of Wyoming, Dr. Ye Zhang, a groundwater hydrologist, has worked for years to gain a better understanding of the groundwater resources in southeastern Wyoming. She calls the area, characterized by mountainous watersheds within the larger Rocky Mountain region, the “water tower of the west,” because of the critical role it plays in water supply. In particular, Zhang was curious about aquifer storage and recharge in the Laramie Range and how it subsequently supplies mountain-front recharge to low-lying basin fills surrounding the mountain. She was eager to learn whether runoff seeping into fractured bedrock recharged shallow and deep aquifers, from the top of the mountain range to the deepest basin fills. With little to no data available on where, when and how much water enters the subsurface, mountain groundwater processes had been largely ignored and the potential resource omitted from long-range sustainability planning.
Determined to gain an understanding of this mountain drainage, Zhang secured…