Boundary Piezometer Installation
Public comments are invited relative to the Environmental Assessment (EA) of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve's proposal to install 10 groundwater monitoring wells, known as piezometers, to comply with the terms of a water right granted by the State of Colorado (Case Number 2004CW35, Water District 3) in August of 2008. The review period is from July 28 through August 26, 2009.
This water right was acquired at the request of the US Congress, as stated in the Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Act or 2000, P.L. 106-530. The Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve Act expanded the boundary of the former Great Sand Dunes National Monument to better protect the environments associated with the dunes.
An environment of prime importance are the local aquifers, due to their influence on wide spread evaporite environments, stream flow, and biological diversity. Much of the political interest in the boundary expansion was motivated by an overwhelming local desire to protect water resources of the area, and the requirement to obtain a protective ground water right was directed by Congress.
This is the first non-consumptive water right issued by the State of Colorado. The water right application included a plan on how such a water right would be managed. The plan dictated the placement of ten piezometers along the south, west, and north park boundaries to collect baseline water data and monitor any potential change in water levels.
A piezometer is a small diameter pipe intended to measure water pressure in an aquifer. Each piezometer setup consists of a 2.5 inch pvc pipe installed to the bottom of the unconfined aquifer; a protective housing constructed from a metal culvert; and a metal pole with a solar panel and transmission antennae. Inside the protective housing will be a datalogger and data transmission equipment. Piezometers are not production wells and water will not be pumped from them. The ten sites were chosen for their position along the boundary where the potential for external changes to the system are likely to be noticed first. The western boundary is the most critical area to measure because it is where the aquifer interfaces with land outside the park boundary.
The data provided by these piezometers will have beneficial effects on the National Park Service's ability to manage its ground water right and protect natural water levels and the resources that are dependent on them.
If you wish to comment on this project, you may mail comments to: Superintendent; Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, 11500 Hwy 150, Mosca, CO 81146, or email Fred_Bunch@nps.gov . Comments are due by Wednesday, August 26, 2009.
Fred Bunch, Chief of Resources Management
Telephone: 719.378.6361, Fax: 719.378.6360
c/o Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
11500 Hwy 150, Mosca, CO 81146
Environmental Assessment for Boundary Piezometer Installation Open for Public Comment