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Ramboll is going to assist California in implementing more sustainable groundwater management

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has selected a team of consultants led by the Danish company Ramboll to map the groundwater resources in an area one and a half times the size of Denmark. The surveys will provide a standardized statewide dataset to support the implementation of more sustainable groundwater management practices.

Groundwater is a critical source of water for both California farms and communities. The State of California enacted the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which requires local agencies in high- and medium-priority groundwater basins to develop and implement groundwater sustainability plans.

Today, it was announced that the Danish engineering group Ramboll has been selected to lead the team conducting the surveys and interpreting the standardized statewide dataset, which will improve understanding of large-scale aquifer structures and lay the groundwork for the implementation of the groundwater sustainability plans. 

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We are proud to support the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act by providing high-quality data. With proven technology and solid experience from similar projects, we look forward to the exciting collaboration with DWR, the groundwater sustainability agencies as well as the people in California.
Jeff Rogers Director, Ramboll Water in the US

Along with Ramboll, the team consists of GEI, a consulting engineering and environmental firm with five locations in California, and the Danish company SkyTEM which will provide the airborne electromagnetic (AEM) field survey. 


Denmark and california: A rewarding collaboration

Since 2018, Denmark and California have been sharing knowledge on important issues such as sustainable groundwater management, lowering non-revenue water, and developing net-zero wastewater management, through the Danish Water Technology Alliance (WTA). 

Most recently, Denmark and California took the next joint step on the way towards a more resilient, sustainable, and efficient water sector by signing a new Memorandum of Understanding at a virtual signing ceremony on March 9.  
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It is a great pleasure to hear that Danish expertise and technology will be a part of the Californian efforts related to sustainable groundwater management. In times of transition, international partnerships and knowledge sharing are essential. Therefore, we are very excited to be strengthening our collaboration with California and taking a joint step towards a climate-friendly water sector through the MoU we recently signed.
Lone Dencker Wisborg Ambassador of Denmark to the US

Like taking an mri of the ground's surface

Ramboll and SkyTEM have previously conducted similar AEM surveys in California’s high- and medium-priority groundwater basins as well as in other countries including Denmark, where the technology has been used to create detailed mapping of the country’s groundwater resources.

During an AEM survey, a helicopter tows electronic equipment that transmits radio waves to the ground and measures the response that returns. The process has been compared to taking an MRI of the ground’s subsurface, and the data collected is used to create continuous images that are interpreted for underground geology to a depth of about 1,000 feet. 

Steven Springhorn, acting DWR deputy director of statewide groundwater management, explains that statewide AEM surveys will further DWR’s technical assistance services supporting local communities as they work to manage their groundwater supply to ensure its reliability. 

“AEM data will give locals a better understanding of their groundwater basins and will provide a dataset that supports the overall implementation of SGMA and groundwater sustainability agencies’ development of groundwater sustainability plans,” said Steven Springhorn. 

The helicopter services needed for the AEM Survey are provided by Sinton Helicopters, located in in Paso Robles, California, and Aarhus University will provide specialized academic expertise. 

The AEM project is expected to start this summer and DWR will hold a public webinar in advance to launch the project. 

For more information about the project, visit DWR’s statewide AEM surveys project webpage.