Low-flying helicopter

A low-flying helicopter will use equipment to collect data on groundwater aquifers in Washington County in August.

Eastern Nebraska residents should not be alarmed if they see a low-flying helicopter over areas of the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District (PMRNRD) in August.

Beginning Aug. 1 and lasting approximately three weeks, instruments mounted below a helicopter will collect and record geologic measurements to learn more about groundwater aquifers in Dakota, Thurston, Burt, Washington, Douglas, Dodge and Sarpy counties. The PMRNRD, as part of the Eastern Nebraska Water Resources Assessment, have planned the flights and are completing them with financial assistance from the Nebraska Water Sustainability Fund, through the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. A flight schedule for each area is forthcoming.

“The flights will improve our understanding of available groundwater and its possible connections with surface water in an area of the state made more complex by the presence of glacial deposits,” said Paul Woodward, groundwater management engineer for the PMRNRD.

Aqua Geo Frameworks (AGF) of Mitchell will oversee the flights, process data and produce a final report. The equipment can collect data at a speed of more than 50 miles per hour and explore to a depth of more than 700 feet below the ground surface. Scientific equipment, that looks like a hexagon, is towed about 100 feet below the helicopter in a “spider web” array and is designed to map geologic structures beneath the surface of the earth. The helicopter will be manned by experienced pilots specially trained for low-level flying with this equipment. 

The flights are a continuation of previous data collected during 2016 and 2018 and will provide a geologic understanding of all remaining areas in the PMRNRD. Similar flights have been made across Nebraska since 2007 as NRDs seek to better understand and manage groundwater resources.

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