If you look up in the sky sometime in the next month and a half and see a low-flying helicopter overhead, there's no need to be alarmed. It's a new study being done by the Bazile Groundwater Management Area project.
Beginning in mid-July to early August and lasting up to one week, instruments mounted below a helicopter will collect and record geologic measurements to learn more about buried sand and gravel aquifers. The Bazile Groundwater Management Area project, along with several other Natural Resources Districts in the eastern third of Nebraska has planned the flights with supplemental sponsorship from the Nebraska Environmental Trust and the Water Sustainability Fund.
According to Katie Cameron, coordinator of Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment, the flights will improve our understanding of the available ground water resource and potential ground water/surface water connections in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits.
Aqua Geo Frameworks, LLC will oversee the flights, process the data and information, and produce a final report.
“This technology allows for fast data acquisition, upwards of 50 miles per hour, with exploration depth down to 900 feet below the land surface from the air,” Cameron said.
The helicopter will fly lines spaced on the order of 3-miles apart over parts of Knox, Antelope and Pierce Counties. Flight lines of approximately ½ miles apart will be conducted over Creighton’s wellhead protection area and the West Knox Rural Water wellhead protection area. The remaining flight lines planned during this fall event will cover other areas of northeastern Nebraska in the Papio-Missouri River, Lower Elkhorn, Lewis and Clark and Lower Platte North NRDs.
Scientific equipment is towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a ’spider web’ array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the earth. The helicopter will be manned by experienced pilots who are specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment.
This scientific program is designed to study the area’s water resources such as sand and gravel aquifers using an aerial perspective. It is part of an ongoing program of the agencies listed above to identify physical occurrences such as changes in geologic materials and sediment types. More project information can be obtained by visiting www.enwra.org.