On Wednesday October 21st the Edmonton ground water team was in Fort McMurray for the annual water quantity run. In total there were 16 wells that needed to be visited in order to collect water level data to be fed into the provincial WISKI database. All the sites that were visited were remote and required the use of a helicopter for access. If we were lucky we could land right at our site and be within steps of our wells, other sites required hauling our equipment and hiking through cut lines and new, thick, vegetation to our wells. Our annual trips allow us to collect data that feeds into historical data trends that monitor natural and man-made fluctuations in water levels in the Fort McMurray region.
While at these sites we downloaded data from our loggers, did a manual dip to check how far the logger drifted since it was last programmed, and then finally reprogrammed the loggers to record water levels again until we return in the following year. After each well we would clean our dippers to make sure that we would lower the possibility of contaminating subsequent wells that were visited later that day. Since we only visit these sites once a year we also brought along some materials for well maintenance. At once site we brought bentonite chips so that we could level out the ground directly around the well to prevent the pooling of water around the casing. This year we only brought four bags, previous years up to 20 bags of bentonite were brought on a single trip. We would also bring extra locks, bolt cutters, as well as logger cables to prepare for any unexpected alterations to the wells.
Detailed notes are taken at the sites so that when we return the following year we can bring out more materials for station maintenance.It was my first time up in Fort McMurray, as well as flying in a helicopter, and it was such an amazing experience to be able to see the development in the area and know that the data that we were collecting was helping provincial water monitoring in a positive way