Posted May 26, 2010
By Dr. Nicholas Pinhey, Director of Utility Planning and Projects, City of Modesto California
I was very pleased to be able to participate in the May 21, 2010 congressional briefing entitled Contaminants in Sources of Drinking Water from Public Supply Wells http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=2462 . The briefing was cosponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey along with the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (http://www.eesi.org/contaminants-sources-drinking-water-public-wells-21-may-2010) and the Water Environment Federation. The main topic of the briefing was the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program’s release of the new publication on naturally occurring and man-made contaminants in public water supply wells around the country (http://water.usgs.gov/nawqa/). Additionally, the briefing included presentations on the quality of water in public supply wells in Modesto California and Modesto’s use of the USGS data in its water supply program.
I have been involved in managing groundwater systems for many years and have dealt with both naturally occurring contaminants and man-made contaminants in groundwater. I was invited to the briefing by the USGS because Modesto is using their assessment to help manage our groundwater resources.
We are using the USGS information for well design and construction, locating new well sites, designing recharge programs, well field operations and groundwater master planning. A key element of the study involves naturally occurring uranium in the upper zone of our aquifer being mobilized by flood irrigation and migrating into lower aquifer zones. This can have significant long-term impacts our drinking water quality and the USGS information is very valuable for our management of groundwater.
The briefing took place in the Capitol Building Visitor Center and it was an exciting experience presenting at our nation’s capitol. Coincidentally, I had been in Washington D.C. the week before the USGS presentation to meet with legislative staff to secure authorization for a regional recycled water project so I was able to present in D.C. on two of my favorite programs: drinking water and recycled water. If anyone would like to share a related experience, please post it here.