Thursday, February 21, 2013


By Jay Beaumont, Groundwater Foundation Board Member

Ed Helbig and I have teamed up to take our respective road shows on the road together.

Ed is the Education Coordinator for the Orange  County Water Authority, and I am a long time groundwater advocate.  We decided to team up and present information about groundwater resources to groups in the County.  Many of the groups are or have been Groundwater Guardian Communitites, and this is an opportuntity for them to sponsor a Results Oriented Activity and come back into the fold.

We were invited to do our inaugural Groundwater Night by our old friend, Sandy Leonard, the Supervisor of the Town of Monroe.  She suggested that we work with the Town of Monroe Conservation Advisory Commission and another old friend, John Ebert, the Chairman of the Commission.  Thanks to both of them for their support and efforts to make the evening a success.

Ed started off with a presentation at the macro level --
  • Watersheds,
  • Streams,
  • Reservoirs,
  • Glacial sand and gravel deposits in river valleys,
  • Bedrock formations,
  • Bedrock faults and fractures that hold water, and
  • Importance of protecting all of them.
My presentation used the groundwater model to give the micro level --
  • Sand and gravel aquifers,
  • Clay confining layers,
  • Pollution sources,
  • How groundwater moves,
  • Interaction of groundwater and surface water,
  • How a well works -- drawdown and recharge,
  • Cone of depression,
  • Contamination of wells by pollution sources far away,
  • Effects of drought on groundwater levels.
The discussions quickly turned to road salt.  The members of the commission are well versed in environmental issues in the County, and chlorides in drinking water are becoming a serious problem.

They are concerned by the municipal "black road" policies in the winter -- clear the roads of snow and ice as quickly as possible.  One member suggested that the municipalities approach the salting of roads in a manner similar to Integrated Pest Management instead of a brute force approach.

John Karl, DPW Superintendent and long time Groundwater Guardian joined us and noted that he is having problems getting local malls to reduce salt applications to protect nearby wells.  Three of Harriman's wells are in the shallow sand and gravel aquifer.

John did relate an interesting story.  When Hurricane Irene hit in 2011, the flood plain in Harriman had water six feet deep.  The flood plain is over the sand and gravel aquifer.  After the flooding had subsided, they measured the chlorides and found a significant drop in the amount.  The hurricane had flushed the chlorides from the aquifer.

At the end of the evening Ed presented a map of the water resoures of the Town of Monroe to John Ebert and the Commission.

We were encouraged by the wonderful exchange of information and the interest in protecting groundwater.

1 comment:

Cindy Kreifels said...

Ed and Jay have teamed up for a second road show to teach the people of Orange County about groundwater. This time they shared information with 24 citizens at the Orange County Land Trust in Sugar Loaf, New York. They were joined by Stu Turner of the Land Trust Board who gave a nice introduction about the Land Trust, and Marcia Jacobowitz, Chairperson of the Orange County Water Authority who gave an overview of the Water Authority's mission. The Orange County Water Authority has been a Groundwater Guardian since 1995.

The discussions during the evening focused on road salt, fracking, and flooding along the Wallkill River. In particular, the audience members were concerned with the salt brine that comes out of fracking wells and the hazardous chemicals that are injected into the well and become mixed with the brine.