University of Calgary

Researchers partner with county to monitor water levels

UToday HomeFebruary 22, 2013

The web portal draws data from 40 wells in the Rocky View region.The web portal draws data from 40 wells in the Rocky View region.An online platform launched this week by the University of Calgary and Rocky View County will help equip landowners to monitor changing water levels.

The Rocky View Well Watch lets landowners or members of the public visualize how water levels are rising or falling. The portal collects information from 40 wells in the Rocky View area monitored by university researchers and 25 volunteers.

“The majority of our residents rely on wells as their water source,” says Vince Diot, municipal engineering technologist at Rocky View County.

“The web portal is launching with four years of data that can now be presented visually to help viewers understand how water levels are affected by things like individual consumption patterns, as well as environmental and climatic factors,” says Diot.

Masaki Hayashi, professor in the Department of Geoscience in the Faculty of Science and team lead for Rocky View Well Watch, says this project helps make the data more easily available.

“Before the web portal was developed, the monitoring system was fragmented and time-consuming. It didn’t give the well owners, or the public, the chance to visualize and engage with water issues in their community,” Hayashi says. See a CBC video interview with Hayashi.

The new system displays groundwater levels using a virtual web map, with time series graphs showing the rise and fall of water rates as the readings are taken on a daily or bi-monthly basis.

The system was developed in conjunction with a team of geospatial experts in the Schulich School of Engineering, led by Steve Liang, assistant professor in geomatics engineering.

“We are excited about the opportunity the Rocky View Well Watch presents, not only for landowners looking to monitor their water resources, but also for interested citizens and teachers wanting to educate their students about the impact of human activity on the Alberta water table,” says Liang. His work is part of a larger project called GeoCENS, partly funded by Microsoft Research, which integrates and makes available a range of environmental data.


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