The U.S. Geological Survey will soon begin a four-year study of the water resources in Osage County.
The USGS will hold public meetings to inform residents about the project and recruit landowners with existing water wells to participate in the study.
Some new wells will be drilled for the study as well, said Chris Harich, a USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center Hydrologist. A total of about 30 wells will be monitored for the study.
The USGS will also collect data via helicopter, equipped with large electromagnetic and magnetic instruments suspended from a cable, to fly over Osage County in a grid pattern beginning in August. The aircraft will be operated by experienced pilots, who are specially trained and approved for low-level flying. All flights will be coordinated with the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure flights are in accordance with U.S. law.
The plan is to let residents know about the helicopter’s purpose to avoid any confusion about what is happening in the skies over Osage County.
"We are making every effort to get the word out," said David Mott, USGS Oklahoma Water Science Center Director.
"The survey will be flown in a grid pattern with east-west lines to be flown ¼ mile apart at elevations ranging from 100 to 500 feet above the ground, and 2 ½ miles apart in a north-south direction during daylight hours," he said.
According to Osage Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle, the nearly $2.2 million study will provide information, made available to the public at the conclusion of the study, to ensure that the industrial uses of the local water supply do not impinge upon the fresh water needs of Osage County residents in future years.
"The outcomes of the geophysical surveys combined with other data collection activities such as surface stream gaging and ground water quality and water table elevation mapping, will provide a comprehensive description of the distribution and volume of water resources," Mott said. "This information will be used to make connections between supply and demand components of all types of water use, and plan for the potential availability of water resources under current and future climatic scenarios."
The USGS and the Osage Nation will host three public meetings with each starting at 6:30 p.m.: Tuesday, July 9, at the Osage Nation Language Department at 260 N. 2nd Street in Fairfax, Wednesday, July 10, at the Skiatook Community Center, Municipal Boardroom located at 220 South Broadway in Skiatook, and Thursday, July 11, at the Dave Landrum Community Center located at 520 Lynn Avenue in Pawhuska.
For more information or to volunteer for participation in the study, call Osage Nation Environmental and Natural Resources Director Jann Jones at 918-287-5333.