What flies above will soon give improved knowledge about what flows below. Starting January 16, residents and motorists may notice low-flying aircraft streaking across the sky on a mission to better map underground water resources in outlying areas surrounding Edmonton.
The specially-equipped planes will be flying about 120 metres from the ground towing a large low-frequency radio transmitter behind them. A series of flights will be conducted over approximately 30 days to complete a groundwater mapping and inventory survey.Ongoing mapping and modeling of Alberta’s groundwater resources is one of the key actions outlined in Alberta’s Water for Life Action Plan.
“Alberta is growing and thriving, but with that growth comes increased pressure on our resources,” said Environment Minister Rob Renner. “We’re using the latest technology to obtain a clearer understanding of our groundwater so we can make better water management decisions for a sustainable future.”
The geophysics survey uses electromagnetic waves to help locate underground water supplies. This innovative technique, called airborne geophysics, measures the electrical properties of the earth, rock and water below ground level without disturbing the land. The waves are harmless and will not interfere with cell phones, televisions or other electronic devices. The aircraft will not fly over greater Edmonton-Leduc or directly over any city or town.
The survey is part of a multi-year, provincial groundwater mapping and inventory program commissioned by Alberta Environment and the Alberta Geological Survey. The flights are part of the first phase of a province-wide groundwater survey that covers a large area between Edmonton and Calgary and surrounding areas where groundwater is heavily used.
Information from the survey will improve knowledge and understanding of the province’s geology and underground water supplies. The results from the survey will also help government to develop tools to protect and manage the province’s water resources.