Drilling Time

After much difficulty obtaining land access permission, quotes, contractors,  and locates, we have finally been able to start drilling on site. Thus far, we have installed 3 Solinst CMT multilevel wells, each well containing 7 ports located at a different elevations. The hope is to install thermistors and pressure transducers within each port to track the movement of water during a long term pumping test. The wells are drilled to specific depths and exact locations to capture different things, including the induction of flow in the adjacent creek, the dynamics between wells, and the overall regional flow field changes due to pumping.

With the rig in place, drilling started on the first well.

1 rig in position

As we drilled, split spoon core samples were collected, logged, photographed, and bagged for analysis later on in the lab. The area primarily consisted of homogeneous runs of medium to coarse grained sand with trace gravel, which made for straight forward logging.

4 core

Based on the core samples collected, the elevations of the 7 well screens were then determined in order to avoid any layers of fines. This photos shows the well tubing set out of the grass in an effort to uncoil it while the screens were fastened into place.

2 well tubes

Once the desired depth was reached, the wells were installed. This was a very simple process, because intermediate seals between the ports were not necessary. The loose, coarse sand collapsed easily around the screens to provide a representative hydrogeologic environment for that specific depth. Bentonite hole plug was only required  above the shallowest screen in order to adequately protect the aquifer by sealing it, thus limiting an potential for flow conduits from the surface.

3 install

Although efforts were made to reverse the augers out of the drilled holes, some sand was still brought to surface. This required some landscaping finesse to bring the site back to its manicured state.

5 landscaping

While landscaping slowly restored the surface, the wells were developed. This essentially meant that the wells were pumped at a low rate in order to further collapse the sand around the screens and allow the subsurface to equilibrate. This will be an ongoing process combined with water level measurements to understand the more stable water table conditions prior to the pumping test.

6 development

After three days of drilling, logging, installing, landscaping, and well development, our multilevel wells were completed. The finished product looked pretty impressive. I am very excited to see the data this subsurface monitoring network yields.

7 finished product

Canada Day in Waterloo

As Canada celebrates its 146th  year since Confederation, I was excited to spend the big day dressed in red-and-white in Waterloo. As member of the Student of the Water Institute – Graduate Section (SWIGS), I helped organize a station in the UW Activity Zone to get kids excited about water through educational games and activities. It took quite a bit of preparation that was all made possible by our Outreach Committee.

Leading up to the big day, we constructed a small model of the Grand River Watershed that was inspired by a larger version at the Waterloo-Wellington Children’s Groundwater Festival. Our tabletop version was designed  use marbles instead of ping pong balls to demonstrate how precipitation falls, creating small tributaries that converge to form larger rivers, like the Grand. We were all quite pleased with the finished product and how we were able to use simple tubing, hot glue, and a laminated image to make such a professional looking model.

watershed model

On the day of, I did some last minutes preparations, including filling 62 water balloons. They were mostly just for fun and to get kids excited because what kid doesn’t like playing with water balloons?

water balloons

In addition to the balloons and watershed model, there was also a bracelet making station – where the coloured beads represented different quantities of the world’s water – bubbles, and a drawing station, all of which were free courtesy of the Water Institute. I might have been having too much fun with the bubbles.


I think that the kids really enjoyed themselves! Professor Josh Neufeld posted a photo of his son on Twitter enjoying the Water Games station. We had really good attendance throughout the event, it was a busy time but so much fun that it made the event fly by. Before we knew it, it was time to get food, enjoy the Spirit of the West concert, and settle in for fireworks.


I must thank the volunteers, both members and friends of the SWIGS Outreach Committee, for all of their help preparing and setting up for the event, and especially for their enthusiasm in getting kids excited about water! Thanks guys and happy belated Canada Day everyone!


Photo credit: Allison Bawden and Michelle Cho, thank you!

Field Season Underway

Summer field season is upon us! Although the weather has been rather erratic over the last few weeks, it has been great to get outside. We have an excellent team of undergrad co-op students working with us this term. They are each looking at a different topic throughout the watershed, which we will be piecing together as part of my research. This includes stream flow gauging, temperature profiling below the creek bed, and analyzing water quality through sampling and the use of a sonde.

Here is our team at the first stop we made this week, toward the south end of the watershed. We were able to find a reasonably laminar spot to set up our transect.


Our next stop was really beautiful. This was at the back of a lovely farm property. The sun shining, horses grazing, and birds singing made this a great spot for some water research.


The next day we headed out again. Not as sunny, and it actually started to rain on us later, but we discovered some amazing hidden spots along our trek up and down the creek.


So serene, we were even able to ignore the mosquitoes.


Later on in the day, we started to get tired legs from all the stream hiking in our stylish hip waders. There were some rather deep locations in the creek with very soft sediments along the banks… that unfortunately lead to some muddy clothes. But overall we had a great time out there, finding five rather ideal locations to visit over the summer.


Hydrogeology Field School

Lake Marie

Last week marked the completion of my graduate course requirements for my MSc program. Although I may decide to take courses over the next year for personal interest’s sake, this still felt like a huge milestone in this whole Master’s process. And the completion of this “final” course felt particularly rewarding. It was a three week intensive hydrogeology field school that draws students from around the world. Although some of the program was redundant to UW students, it was still a good learning opportunity – especially in terms of teamwork. Nothing says “work together” more than randomly assigned groups for an entire course and all-night pumping and recovery test monitoring. This brought on some necessary bonding between our classmates and I think we all came away from the field school having not only made excellent networking connections, but good friends.Photographed above is Lake Marie near Elmira, the site where we studied groundwater-surface water interaction using seepage meters and mini piezometers. I this was also my first opportunity to see v-notch weirs in the field and measure stream flow via dilution gauging. It was rather beautiful so that didn’t hurt one bit.

Spring Sampling and Flow Measurements

Despite getting a ton of water in our hip waders today, it was still great to be out in the field. And in positive temperatures nonetheless! We went from the south to the north end of our watershed today, gathering water samples from the creek and using some of our new equipment. The sondes we have came in handy for getting conductivity, pH, and temperature — however, I am really thinking that we should have gotten the model with a handheld display instead of trucking around our new laptop (even if it is a Toughbook). We used out flow meter to gather the stream velocity across a transect. Unfortunately, we had difficulty with our depth calibration so we might have gotten our feet wet for nothing on that one. Here’s hoping there is good data in those samples we collected!