Learn to Survey and Report on Environments.
Environments need to be managed more than ever by man; and the data collected through environmental surveys forms a basis for effective management.
- The importance of environmental survey is rapidly increasing
- The amount of environmental surveying being done is increasing
- Work opportunities in environmental surveying is increasing
WHAT GETS SURVEYED?
Environmental surveys may be extensive or with a limited focus. This depends upon the purpose behind doing the survey.
Surveys may be mandatory, prior to a change in land use or construction project. The purpose is often to provide information used for making decisions about what might be developed, or how development might proceed.
The survey may be gathering information about soil characteristics, water resources, plants and animals, topographic features or anything microclimatic features such as temperature, wind and air.
Some environmental surveyors will specialise in what they survey (eg. identifying animal species, populations and place in the overall ecosystem; identifying soil or air chemistry, plant species, or something else).
WHAT IS GROUND WATER?
Surface water is found and collected in the surface of the earth either as Oceans, lakes, rivers, basins, dams, ponds, creeks and other reservoirs. This water fills up mainly by rainfall, storms and streamflow, which can depend strongly on seasonal variations and weather conditions. The main uses of surface water in today’s world include household and public uses, for irrigation purposes and by thermoelectric power plants.
Although the Oceans make up to about 97% of today’s Earth water, only that 3% accounts for glaciers/ice caps, then groundwater, followed by rivers, lakes and streams, and the remaining is found in the atmosphere.
Groundwater, as the name explains it, is found below the earth’s surface, mainly from the infiltration of water through the soil or through porous rocks. Groundwater is immensely important for the environment and it is one of our most valuable resources on the planet. It not only connects with wetlands and other surface water sources, it also supplies water to trees, plants and other vegetation on the earth.
Although surface water and groundwater occupy physically different areas in the planet, they are directly linked together. Groundwater is the base for surface water - this is also known as ‘baseflow’. Without baseflow some water sources would have to depend merely on rainfall to avoid drying out, instead, baseflow gives off a slow seepage of water into riverbanks allowing rivers to carry a constant waterflow (provided the right conditions are present) and distribute it to other water sources, such as lakes and oceans.
There are a couple of different zones included in groundwater. One is called the ‘water table’ which is found between the upper surface (unsaturated zone) and the saturated zone, and the other is what we call ‘aquifers’ which is the saturated zone directly underneath the water table.
Aquifers can store huge amounts of water and, depending on the porosity and permeability of the rocks, water can be delivered to springs and streams or pumped out by wells. If the permeability of the rocks in the saturation zone is high, it means water can run through it a a fast enough rate and allow placement of pumping wells, however, if the pumping rate is higher that the water replenished in this zone, there is a good chance that the water supply can dry right up. Overtime, this effect can cause the water table to go lower and lower to an extent that water will not be able to be pumped from that well ever again.