2016 NGWA Groundwater Summit

Importance, Distribution, and Character of the Nation's Brackish Groundwater Resources

Wednesday, April 27, 2016: 11:30 a.m.
Confluence Ballroom B (The Westin Denver Downtown)
Jennifer S. Stanton , Nebraska Water Science Center, USGS, Northborough, MA
David W. Anning , Arizona Water Science Center, USGS, Flagstaff, AZ
Richard B. Moore , New England Water Science Center, USGS, Pembroke, NH
Virginia L. McGuire , Nebraska Water Science Center, USGS, Lincoln, NE
James R. Degnan, PG , New England Water Science Center, USGS, Pembroke, NH

Nontraditional groundwater sources, such as moderately saline (brackish) groundwater, are increasingly being used for drinking water, oil and gas extraction, power generation, and other uses to supplement or replace the use of freshwater. This demand is likely to grow as fresh groundwater resources continue to decline. Demand could grow especially rapidly in some parts of the country where climate changes result in hotter and drier conditions. Despite the current and future need for alternative water supplies, brackish groundwater was last assessed at the national scale almost 50 years ago. Since that study, substantially more hydrologic and chemical data have been collected that can be used to improve the understanding of brackish waters.

The U.S. Geological Survey is reassessing the alternative water supply potential of significant brackish groundwater resources. Preliminary results indicate that almost one third (2.2 million km2) of the continental United States is underlain by brackish groundwater (dissolved-solids concentration between 1,000 and 10,000 mg/L) within the uppermost 3,000 ft of the land surface. This evaluation is likely an underestimate of the total resource because available data for mapping the distribution of brackish groundwater are scarce in some areas, especially for depths greater than 500 ft below land surface where brackish groundwater is more likely to occur. Most of the known brackish groundwater is within in the Western Mid-Continent region. Other significant reserves of brackish groundwater largely are found in the Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, Eastern Mid-Continent, and Southwest Basins regions. The ability of brackish aquifers to produce at least 100 gal/min of water was greatest in the Southwest Basins (80 percent of wells) and least in the Western Mid-Continent region (8 percent of wells).

Jennifer S. Stanton, Nebraska Water Science Center, USGS, Northborough, MA
Jennifer Stanton began her career with the USGS in 1994. She has studied a wide range of water-resource topics including groundwater quality, groundwater-age dating, groundwater/surface water interactions, groundwater-level changes, estimation of water-budget components, and development of groundwater flow models. She specializes in regional-scale groundwater resource assessments in agricultural settings. Other areas of interest include application of statistical methods and GIS to analyze groundwater data. She is the author or coauthor of more than 25 publications. Stanton is currently the project manager for the USGS National Brackish Groundwater Assessment.

David W. Anning, Arizona Water Science Center, USGS, Flagstaff, AZ
Education: B.S. in GeoSciences 1991, M.S. in Hydrology, 2002, both from University of Arizona I began working with the AzWSC in 1990 in the Tucson Office and worked on many interesting local to state-scale projects that investigated land subsidence, water use, uncertainty in streamflow data, and stream-water quality. In 2005, I transfered to the Flagstaff Office and have investigated groundwater availability in northwestern Arizona. As part of the NAWQA Cycle 2 program I have investigated groundwater quality of basin-fill aquifers in the Southwest, the salinity of streams and basin-fill aquifers in the Southwest, and salinity of the Nation's streams. Several studies have focused on identifying statistical relations between water quality conditions and environmental factors, and then using these relations to predict water quality conditions across large regions of the United States.

Richard B. Moore, New England Water Science Center, USGS, Pembroke, NH
Research Hydrologist

Virginia L. McGuire, Nebraska Water Science Center, USGS, Lincoln, NE
Virginia McGuire has been a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey since 1994. Since 1995, she has been the project chief for the High Plains Water-Level Monitoring Study, which includes annually compiling water levels from wells screened in the High Plains aquifer and using the water levels to calculate change in aquifer storage. Her other interests include groundwater quality studies in eastern Nebraska.

James R. Degnan, PG, New England Water Science Center, USGS, Pembroke, NH
Jim’s position with the USGS New Hampshire Vermont Water Science Center has provided him the opportunity to be involved in a variety of groundwater, surface water and water quality studies locally and participate as support with geophysical surveys and interpretations in the US and recently in Abu Dhabi. Jim serves as treasurer for the Geological Society of NH. Jim is a NH PG and has a BS in Geology from UNH (1997), and has worked for the USGS since 1994.