Refining Interpretation Techniques for Determining Brackish Aquifer Water Quality

Project ID: 2924
Principal Investigator: Bethany Jackson
Research Topic: Desalination and Water Treatment
Funded Fiscal Years: 2016
Keywords: None

Research Question

Brackish aquifer mapping has become a national priority in the past decade as an increasing population and water
demand has created water shortages and generated a need for new water supplies. Developing maps and tools to
identify the location and estimate the amount of brackish water in aquifers at the state level is essential to
sustainable management and use of this resource. It is also important to increase our understanding of brackish
groundwater supplies so local public entities can make scientific-based investment decisions that will lead to a
reliable source into the future. Brackish aquifer mapping studies use a variety of existing geophysical well logs to
interpret water quality in the aquifers. However, interpreting geophysical well logs for water quality can be
difficult and at times uncertain. Many correction factors are needed based on local geology, well construction
details, and chemistry of the groundwater. The purpose of this effort will be to answer the questions:
• Can Reclamation work with other Federal and state entities to refine the techniques for interpreting water
quality from geophysical well logs?
• How can improving techniques for mapping brackish aquifers allow for better management and use of these

Need and Benefit

In many areas of world, there are rising concerns over the availability of fresh water supplies as the demand for
water continues to grow due to increasing municipal, agricultural, and industrial water needs. While conventional
water supplies and water management strategies continue to provide the majority of local and regional water
supplies, the amount of potable water supplied by desalination will continue to increase. Entities across the nation
have an urgent need to develop new water supplies to help stretch existing supplies traditionally provided by
reservoirs during severe droughts.
One challenging issue, and a potential roadblock to the more widespread development of brackish groundwater,
is the lack of detailed information on brackish aquifers. A better understanding of the location and quality of
brackish groundwater is needed to expand development of the resource and provide a scientific basis for making
policy decisions. To help address this need, the Department of Interior's WaterSMART initiative, through the U. S.
Geological Survey (USGS) Groundwater Resources Program, is conducting a national assessment of brackish
aquifers. USGS's National Brackish Groundwater Assessment is intended to provide information about brackish
aquifers at national and regional scales and is not for defining site-specific or localized conditions.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 4/4/17