Research update Calgary: students study water management system

Jasper Candel and Adriaan Bourgraaf, two students Environmental Technology at Wageningen UR, recently came back from their 3,5 month research in and around Calgary, stuyding the local water management system. Below is their final report on their study and findings.

"Just after we have left Canada a second and last update of what we have been doing these couple of 3.5 months we spent in Calgary figuring out the surface-water groundwater interactions in relation with floods. Eventually we got a total of 9 level-loggers and selected 4 locations along the Bow and Elbow River to monitor groundwater fluctuations. We used the data from the level-loggers to model the groundwater response to the river with the saturated groundwater model called MODFLOW, and tried to map the alluvial aquifer’s heterogeneity using geophysics.

Mid-June a flood mitigation report was presented by the City of Calgary. We visited a meeting of the stakeholder group called the Bow River Basin Council where they discussed the outcomes of the report. At the meeting it became clear that there was not enough and knowledge of the groundwater component in relation to floods. Since this is what we are doing we got great support from the members of the council and we met a lot of relevant persons in the water business who were willing to help us with our research.

As we continued with the measurements, a few wells did not respond as good as others and we thought the reason for the difference in reaction could be heterogeneity of the alluvial aquifer. Mapping the subsurface of the alluvial aquifer with well logging equipment and Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT) gave us more insight of the lithological composition of the aquifer.

Together with Jason Abboud we also performed a survey at several communities along the Elbow River who suffered from last year’s flooding. With the survey we try to determine if it was ground- or surface water flooding that caused damage. If a few houses for instance indicated water came in first via the basement and the neighbors indicated it was surface water flooding this could mean that the first could be situated on an old paleo-channel. This give us a better insight in the subsurface preferential flow paths and could help in the process of flood mitigation.

In the Netherlands we have to finish our reports and draw our conclusions. It has been a great 3.5 months in Canada and we want to thank ACSN for their support."