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Wednesday
May132015

Upper Loup Natural Resources District Receives Grant from Nebraska Environmental Trust

The Upper Loup Natural Resources District announced that it will receive $103,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for the “Investigating the Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Groundwater Discharge in the Loup River Basin” project. The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its meeting on April 2, 2015 in Lincoln. This is the first year of award with a potential for 2nd and 3rd year funding totaling $95,000 and $110,000 respectively.

The Upper Loup and Lower Loup Natural Resources Districts requested funds to facilitate the collection of airborne thermal infrared data, purchase of additional instrumentation to measure and record groundwater levels and temperature, and to oversee a study to enhance the understanding of spatial and temporal characteristics of groundwater/surface-water interaction in the Loup River basin. Additional information is needed for the management and development of water resources to sustain supplies needed for agriculture, fish and wildlife, recreation, and domestic uses.

Streams in the Loup River basin are sensitive to consumptive groundwater use because of the close hydrologic connection between groundwater and surface water. Four stream reaches, totaling approximately 320 river miles, have been identified by the project sponsors as priority streams where additional groundwater/surface-water interaction information is needed. Over these reaches airborne thermal imagery will be collected and used to map stream surface temperatures to identify thermal anomalies, which may be indicative of focused groundwater discharge. Airborne thermal data will be verified with continuous water-temperature logging at existing stream-gaging stations and with self-logging thermistors.

Mapped thermal anomalies will be investigated with a variety of techniques including water temperature, potentiomanometer, and seepage meter measurements. Within four stream reaches, four coupled groundwater/surface-water gages will be instrumented at existing stream-gaging stations. Coupled groundwater/surface-water gages consist of a streamgage coupled with an observation well that has been completed below the elevation of the streambed and instrumented with a water-level recorder. The information provided by a network of coupled gaging stations will allow scientists and managers to analyze streamflow and groundwater discharge patterns, both temporally and spatially.

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