St. John Tradewinds News

Virgin Islands Joins National Groundwater Research Network

Pictured above: A roadside gauge house set up by the U.S. Geological Survey is expected to collect information on wells in Estate Adrian.
Photo by Judi Shimel. [hr gap=”2″]

ST. JOHN — Motorists driving down Centerline Road have noticed a strange glow by the side of the road near George Simmonds Terrace. It comes from the long legs of a small box mounted shoulder high with a sticker: USGS.

Scientists seeking signs of climate change say they are adding St. John to a national groundwater monitoring network. A researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey calls the box a gauge house.
Richard Kane, USGS associate director for data for Florida and the Caribbean said installation of the gauge house is not finished yet.

“The gauge was recently installed as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Response Network and in cooperation with the Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Kane said.

Once it is fully installed and its data collection system is activated, the St. John monitor becomes part of a 130 well system called the Groundwater Reserve Program.

Monitor wells are found in every state in the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico.

According to information appearing on a USGS website, wells meeting a set of conditions are chosen to help measure climate change. They have to be open to a single known groundwater source in an identified well site or well field.

The aquifer feeding the wells must be identified as one where drought and other climactic factors produce change; they must not be used for irrigation or affected by canals or tidal waters.
They must also be wells that have never gone dry.

Geologists working with the federal government say they are most interested in measuring changes of water levels over long periods of time.

“Monitoring groundwater levels may also help in defining normal hydrologic conditions which can be used to determine deficits or reduction form normal groundwater availability,” Kane said.
Once the Adrian well monitor is added to the system, measurements will be collected by the USGS Water Data Section in Puerto Rico, the geologist said.

Researchers studying climate change have expressed particular interest in changes seen in the Caribbean. The impact of warmer waters, rising sea levels and coastal erosion has been the topic of scientific discourse since the mid 2000s.