How Ground Water Flows
The groundwater flow models
are used to demonstrate ground water movement principles. Constructed with
clear plexiglass, the model allows viewers to watch how the water within
a groundwater system travels. For example, the movement of water towards
a pumping well can be easily observed.
Ground water is one of
our major natural resources. In Nebraska, between 80 and 85 percent of
the population uses ground water as a drinking water supply. Ground water
is used for irrigation on approximately 7,000,000 acres of Nebraska land.
Ground water is also used by livestock, industry and in a multitude of
other ways. In many places, ground water discharges to the surface and
serves as the base flow for streams. Ground water's importance results,
in part, from its widespread availability and use. Although Nebraska has
a major ground water supply, there are areas within the state where large
withdrawals for irrigation have resulted in water level declines. As a
result of an increasing number of water quality problems, there is a growing
concern about protecting the quality of our ground water supplies, along
with conserving our available supply.
Ground Water Concepts
The model simulates an aquifer and is not an actual representation. The model and sand found within are of a much different scale to each other than what is found in an actual aquifer.
Several physical and chemical
ground water concepts can be demonstrated with the ground water model.
The accompanying manual describes 28 concepts that can be shown on the
model. The following a a few of those concepts:
- Ground water aquifers vary
in size, ability to produce water, depth, rock material, water quality,
and other characteristics.
- Ground water is related
to atmospheric and surface water through the hydrologic cycle.
- Artesian (naturally flowing)
wells are the result of aquifers under pressure.
- The types of material (sand,
gravel, clay, rock) in an aquifer affect the rate of flow of ground
water. (Water flows through gravel much easier than through fine sand.)
- Human activities at or near
the land's surface can contaminate ground water.
- Ground water is recharged
Uses of the Model
The model can be used in many different settings. It is especially effective
with youth in school classrooms, for children's festivals, and with Boy
and Girl Scout and 4-H groups. Also, the model can attract significant
attention when used in conjunction with water educational displays. It
can be useful in presenting basic septic system/ground water information
to adult audiences in various types of meeting and workshop formats. Because
of the model's size, it must be used with relatively small groups.
The models are constructed
by the Biological Systems Engineering Research Development Shop at the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, adapted from an original design by the
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. It takes 3 to 4 weeks from the
time the order is received for the model to be built. The model is 24
inches long, 12 inches tall, and approximately 2 inches wide. The weight
of the model with case is about 40 pounds.
In Nebraska, many Extension County Offices and Natural Resource Districts (NRD) have purchased
the models. Extension and NRD staff are often available to provide demonstrations
using the model. In some cases, the models may be available for loan.
Contact your local Extension or NRD office to determine the
availability of a model in your area.