HELENA, Mont. – The Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) announced it has received a grant from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to improve water-use data and reporting on groundwater withdrawals in Montana.
Paul Azevedo, chief of DNRC’s Water Management Bureau, said the grant for $50,643 will enable the Department to sync two statewide databases that contain groundwater information, allowing for the exchange of groundwater withdrawal data to assist hydrologists in determining the source aquifer for groundwater wells across the state. This will bridge the knowledge gap and facilitate data extraction of appropriated groundwater volumes that can be used to estimate annual withdrawals from principal aquifers in Montana.
“This is a great step forward for our ability to provide policy makers, elected officials and the Montana public with the best available data on water use and withdrawals,” Azevedo said. “We’re grateful for this support from USGS and excited to get this project under way.”
Montana’s 2015 State Water Plan details the State’s priorities and strategy for obtaining timely, accurate, and complete information on water availability to support policy and decision-making. One of the key recommendations of the plan is to improve and expand efforts to characterize groundwater. Providing a linkage between appropriated groundwater withdrawals and aquifer data is a simple, yet important approach to fulfilling this state-wide priority.
The grant was provided through the USGS Water Availability and Use Science Program, a national initiative involving local, state and federal partners to consolidate existing datasets for water use and develop national estimates of water withdrawals and consumptive use for eight major categories (public supply, domestic, irrigation, thermoelectric power, industrial, mining, livestock and aquaculture).
Azevedo said differences in water-use datasets and methodologies can make it difficult to compare and analyze water consumption trends from one state to another. The USGS program offers financial aid to states for standardizing data, to the extent possible.
To learn more about the USGS Water Availability and Use Science Program, visit https://www.usgs.gov/water-resources/water-availability-and-use-science-program