Letter to the Editor

Useful answers

NipomoJuly 11, 2014 

Tom Knudson (Groundwater data, July 8) asserted that there is a trove of information locked away that could be useful for managing the state’s water supply. What he didn’t investigate was the real usefulness of that material.

A few years ago, I was on a team that comprehensively reviewed the well logs in the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) files for a large valley in rural Northern California in order to learn about the characteristics of the aquifer containing its water supply.

What we discovered was that logs for a number of known wells were missing from the archive, and the quality and consistency of the existing logs was often poor. This was, no doubt, because the skill and knowledge of well drillers has varied widely, and well logging practices have changed over the decades.

Also, perhaps, because DWR has not always overseen this information-gathering process as well as it might have. In our particular case, the well logs proved to be of little value.

This is just to say that the state repository may not offer all the useful answers that the people Knudson interviewed expect. Motivation to improve quality control might be another reason to open access to it.

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