>Aquifer Briefing Report 4-1-11

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Aquifer Briefing (3/29/11).  On March 29, 2011 Dr. Joel Massman gave an informative presentation on aquifer modeling and specifically how the Bainbridge Island aquifer study and model related to Illahee Creek and the surrounding area.

Many Engineers and Hydrologists Attended.  We were surprised at the number of engineers, hydrologists, and those working in the water industry, who attended the briefing, since the press releases sent to local papers did not get printed.  Other educators and scientists also attended such that it seemed like the aquifer topic appealed primarily to those with scientific backgrounds and those with advanced degrees with at least 4 Ph.D’s, including Dr. Massmann in attendance.

Illahee Residents – Low Numbers?  We were also surprised that there weren’t more Illahee residents in attendance, though a number of residents who could not attend provided questions to ask.  There were a total of 14 signs placed throughout the Illahee community, and in the days preceding the briefing we were told by many that they like receiving the summaries of meetings so they don’t feel they need to attend in order to be informed.  We also heard some got the date wrong and showed up on Wednesday. 

Bremerton Kitsap Access Television (BKAT).  The briefing was video taped by BKAT for later showings, which will help those who could not attend on Tuesday.  We will let you know when they will be shown on Channel 12.

Briefing Content.  We do not have a copy of the Power Point of the briefing so this will be very short and succinct.  The Bainbridge Island study did extend over onto the Kitsap Peninsula which takes in Illahee.  The USGS gave Dr. Massmann access to their modeling software so he was able to use the model to extrapolate the affect of wells on the flows on Illahee Creek.  The modeling exercise showed that there is a significant effect on the summer base flows of Illahee Creek from the various wells along Illahee Creek.  

Many Questions Followed.  Following the briefing questions from the audience and written ones from those who could not attend, were fielded by Dr. Massmann, with a few fielded by Dr. Matt Bachmann from the USGS.  Comments from some Illahee residents were that the questions helped get the discussions down from the theoretical to the practical issues that local citizens are dealing with.

Responses (Answers) Later.  We will publish some of the more pertinent and interesting questions and answers when we get a tape of the event.  One question and response proved interesting which was — When will the USGS Kitsap aquifer study be completed?  The answer was in another 4 years.  (Comment – That is the reason the Port wanted to have Dr. Massmann review the USGS BI Study could give us more information on Illahee Creek, which many residents consider already at a critical state with respect to low base flows.)

Comments from Other Attendees?  We would like to hear from others who attended the briefing on their thoughts.  We did receive emails the next day thanking those who arranged for the briefing, which would be the Port of Illahee with funding from the Department of Ecology.

Jim Aho

>Press Release for Aquifer Meeting 3/29/11 3-17-11

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Illahee Aquifer Issues.  Over the years some Illahee residents have been concerned about the increasingly low baseflows in Illahee Creek during periods when there is no or little precipitation, primarily in the summer time.  The baseflows in Illahee Creek are supplied from springs (or seeps) that emanate from the shallow aquifers.  

Base Flows Critical for Fish.  Adequate baseflows during dry periods is crucial for fish survival and are of special concern for those hoping at restoring Illahee Creek’s fish (salmonids) population to near historic levels.

Aspect Consulting Report.  A number of years ago Aspect Consulting did an analysis of Illahee Creek during one of the dry summer months to identify the primary locations of the springs supplying the creek and the flows coming from the seeps.  The study noted the importance of infiltration of rainwater into the groundwater systems and aquifers, and noted that a proposal to run stormwater to the Sound could decrease the baseflow in Illahee Creek by 15 to 20%.

Parametrix Report.  When the Port of Illahee and the Department of Ecology funded the engineering firm Parametrix to conduct a watershed study of Illahee Creek, they included a requirement for an Aquifer Protection Plan to be prepared for the creek.  The plan was sub-contracted out to Keta Waters, an engineering firm specializing in hydrology.

June 2009 Briefing.  The Aquifer Protection Plan for Illahee Creek was presented at a briefing on June 30, 2009 at the Norm Dicks Center, during which Dr. Joel Massmann of Keta Waters, noted that the Manette Aquifer, which underlies much of Illahee and Illahee Creek, may be at water balance according to his calculations.  This was the first time many had heard this and in talking to those attending, many did not understand the situation or the implications.  

Water Balance?  As we understood the presentation, the Manette aquifer is recharged solely by the infiltration of rainwater, and that recharge amount is also what is being withdrawn for drinking water and what is being discharged into creeks such as Illahee.  In other words this aquifer may be essentially at water balance.  It will take more studies to confirm this and they were recently authorized, but it will take a number of years before they will be completed.

Implications of Being at Water Balance.  If Dr. Massmann is correct, then it seems to us that we should be paying attention to this situation, and understand possible implications:  such as What happens if we have a relatively dry rainy season, or several in a row, and we withdraw more water than is infiltrated?   Are we in danger of salt water intrusion into the aquifer?

Bainbridge Island USGS Aquifer Study Issued 3/1/11.  Dr. Massmann has been invited back to give another briefing on this subject, and will have some more information which he hopes to get from the USGS study of the Bainbridge Island aquifers.  This will be another opportunity for residents to better understand the groundwater and aquifer system that lies under us, and what we can do to make sure it remains a viable water resource into the future.

The Press Release.  We thought it might be helpful to preface the following press release with our thoughts and concerns in hopes that residents would want to learn more at the briefing: 


GROUNDWATER, AQUIFERS & INFILTRATION REQUIREMENTS
A Briefing of the Manette Peninsula Aquifer and the Illahee Watershed Aquifer Protection Plan by Dr. Joel Massmann
A briefing discussing the underlying aquifers in Illahee and the surrounding area will be held at the Norm Dicks Government Center on the evening of March 29, 2011 from 6:30-8 pm.
Dr. Joel Massmann will discuss the underlying aquifers and groundwater recharge on the Manette Peninsula and within the Illahee Creek watershed.  The presentation will address questions regarding how much fresh water is in these aquifers, where does this fresh water come from,  and where does it go.  These questions will be described in the context of relationships between groundwater for municipal supply and groundwater to support stream flow and wetlands. 
In June 2009, Dr. Massmann noted that the Manette Aquifer may essentially be at water balance and the water rights for the aquifer may have been over-allocated. (Also in June 2009 the Kitsap County Commissioners adopted a “Water as a Resource Policy” for Kitsap County.)   Since that time the Kitsap PUD and local water purveyors have funded USGS to conduct a detailed study of the Kitsap Peninsula that will take several years to complete.  In the meantime the implications of local aquifers possibly at water balance needs to be addressed.  Dr. Massmann has been invited back to discuss the aquifer issues again and any possible extrapolations for Illahee from the USGS Groundwater Study of Bainbridge Island that was issued on March 1, 2011.  He will also provide specific recommendations for protecting aquifers, which are the sole source of our drinking water on the Manette Peninsula.
Dr. Massmann has over twenty-five years of experience as a groundwater consultant.  He is the founder of Keta Waters and was previously a faculty member in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington.
Dr. Massmann’s study of the local aquifers was funded in part over the last few years by grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Washington State Department of Ecology; and by the Port of Illahee, the Illahee Forest Preserve, and the Illahee Community.  

Comments?  If you have any thoughts on this subject, or even disagreements with our comments, we would like to hear them and will include them in a future update, or you can comment on the blog http://illaheecommunity.blogspot.com/ or Facebook.

Jim Aho