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Event Series Event Series: Groundwater Study Group

Groundwater Study Group

January 17, 2023 @ 2:00 am 3:30 pm

Douglas Morell, Class of 2022

Sound Water Stewards (SWS) is offering a Groundwater Study Group (GSG) for SWS Members that are interested in Island County groundwater resources. Island County groundwater aquifers are our only source of fresh water (except for some Oak Harbor residents) and are designated “Sole Source” Aquifers in Washington State. Hydrogeology is the study of groundwater. Island aquifer systems have unique characteristics and the purpose of this Study Group is to gain knowledge of our Island County hydrogeology and aquifers systems we depend on.

The GSG will meet via zoom starting in mid-January 2023. How many zoom meetings will be conducted will depend on the level of detail desired and topics of interest to those who attend. We would like to make these meetings as interactive as possible. Some answers to questions may need to be researched for a better understanding, then provided during the following meeting. Island County has developed a comprehensive database on groundwater supply wells on the Island and we want to make sure GSG members know how to access and use this database. 

The main hydrogeologic topics anticipated to be presented are listed below, but these topics may be revised depending on GSG interests:

  1. Principals of Hydrogeology: Basics for understanding groundwater aquifers specific to Island systems. How groundwater infiltrates and migrates. Types of aquifers, their recharge and discharge.  
  2. Island County Groundwater Supply: Groundwater available resources and well extraction impacts.  Groundwater resource conservation.
  3. Saltwater Intrusion and Groundwater Contamination: Basic Island groundwater chemistry.  What saltwater intrusion is and how it occurs. How to evaluate whether saltwater intrusion is occurring. Potential Island contaminant sources and how to evaluate risks to well water.  Potential groundwater treatment, if needed. 
  4. Island County Groundwater Well Data Base: Introduction to the Island County Well Database. Information contained on the database. Interactive access and use of it.
  5. Alternative Water Sources: Potential rainwater and imported water resources.

We look forward to having you participate in these GSG zoom meetings. It should be informative and fun discussing these topics with you!!!

This Study Group is hosted by Douglas Morell, Class of 2022 (W) and utilizes the Doug Kelly video on Hydrogeology which is below (scroll down).

ALL SWS members are invited and welcome to attend. Please log your hours as self-education.


Below is the recording from the first meeting of the Groundwater Study Group in 2023.

Future Groundwater Study Groups will be held on the third Tuesday at 2:30 pm.

Topics participants wanted to cover in future meetings include:

  • Treatment to reduce concentrations of contaminants such as manganese, iron, and arsenic in home and community water systems
  • How to manage our properties to conserve and maximize infiltration of groundwater
  • Our island aquifers are limited – concern about the quality and quantity of available groundwater, including:
    • impacts of development on our water supply
    • what existing regulations are in place to limit development to not overtax our water supplies, and are they sufficient?
    • how to explain our limited water supply to island residents in simple terms
      • how might climate change and sea level rise affect our water supply in the future
  • How often should you get your water tested? Can you trust the contaminant information provided by local water purveyors?
  • Learn how to use the well database – questions about whether it is being updated now that Doug Kelly has left county government

Below is the Doug Kelly, Island County Hydrogeologist recording from 2021.

What is a Study Group?

Twice during the VET sessions in 2022, class members expressed a strong interest in delving more deeply into a topic after class was over. Class members expressed a willingness to take responsibility to help a short-term group form to study together. At the time, we were thinking 1 to 3 meetings, but how many and how often is really up to the group.

  • A study group can stop meeting when participants feel they have covered what they were hoping to cover, OR
  • The next step might be to share the additional material they have gathered or learned via a newsletter article and website news post/page, OR
  • A study group may decide they want to start a new project for all SWS in which case they utilize the New Project Form (pdf or doc) to think through questions that need answers, and then submit that form and idea to the appropriate committee (stewardship, education or community science).
  • For several years, Stewards have led or participated in study groups on marine species identification and on seaweeds.

Another 2023 new Study Group will focus on Zero Waste, Plastics, Producer Responsibility and Stewardship which held its first gathering on Jan 9 at 2 pm.