California Department of Water Resources flies over Santa Clara County to map groundwater basins

Ever wonder how water officials gather information on our underground water resources? Starting this November, the California Department of Water (DWR) Resources will begin flying over the Monterey Bay Area and a small portion of southern Santa Clara County to gather information on our groundwater resources. Using innovative, helicopter-based technology, the aerial surveys help support the local and state goal to improve groundwater management and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

DWR electromagnetic survey flight plan over Santa Clara County for November 2022

During the flyovers, DWR conducts airborne electromagnetic (AEM) surveys. The AEM project is a safe method used to provide state and federal agencies, groundwater sustainability agencies and the public with valuable geological data. The information collected during these surveys will provide a better understanding of our groundwater systems and support more informed and sustainable groundwater management and drought preparedness.

To collect data during AEM surveys, a low-flying helicopter tows a large hoop with scientific equipment approximately 100 feet above the ground surface. Surveys will be conducted during daylight hours only, and the helicopter will not fly over businesses, homes, other inhabitable structures, or confined animal feeding operations.

The helicopter, flown by an experienced pilot, will make several passes over the survey areas and may be visible to residents. For more information on the flight path schedule, visit the AEM Project Schedule page.

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