The scientific challenge is bringing together disparate data in a manner that exposes the temporal and spatial dynamics of the water supply sources in the context of increasing demands and changing policy and management scenarios. To meet this challenge, this project uses a multi-disciplinary approach that synthesizes data collection, field verification, and system dynamics modeling to identify risks to water sustainability and develop alternatives to mitigate those risks. Field verification and testing activities are used to evaluate existing borehole data to insure that the data are accurate and up to date. Water samples are taken to characterize the source water quality and chemistry and are used with other data in the region to develop correlations between depth to water, water chemistry, and source formation.
The data are summarized into a conceptual model that describes the inflows, outflows, and storage mechanisms of the region’s water resources. Conceptual models provide users with a visual map of the dynamic relationships between the various water sources, the primary uses of the water from each source, and how each source may be exploited to support hydraulic fracturing. The conceptual model is the framework from which mathematical representations of the dynamics are ‘hung’ and the system dynamics (SD) decision support model is built. The SD model simulates the increase in drilling activity and water demand relative to each formation and water source to identify the areas/users/formations that are most vulnerable and estimates the risk to water sustainability. The model also performs cost/benefit analyses for each management and future demand scenario.
The project is scheduled for completion in December, 2017.