UW Extension

High-tech equipment opens a window into our aquifers

Pete Chase, left, explains how to use downhole imaging equipment.

Pete Chase, left, demonstrating the Survey’s borehole imaging equipment.

Pete Chase, a geotechnician at University of Wisconsin–Extension’s Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, uses borehole imaging equipment to collect high-resolution digital images of the subsurface at lower cost and with better results than ever before. Chase uses these tools as part of the Survey’s program for hydrogeology and geology research projects. He also uses these tools to assist the WDNR, private well owners and municipal water utilities.

“Sometimes a water supply well will act up. One good way to assess the problem is to drop our camera and other tools down the well to literally take a look. We work with well owners and their consultants to get answers fast—and to get their wells back up and running,” said Pete.

In 2017, Chase helped 15 public water utilities, from Arcadia to Wisconsin Dells. Wisconsin’s water utilities and their consultants are getting the benefit of this state-of-the-art equipment—and the Survey’s hydrogeologists are gathering data about Wisconsin’s aquifers that they would not otherwise have access to. “This is a win-win situation,” said Survey hydrogeologist Dave Hart. “Water supply wells are windows into our aquifers and the chance to look through the window doesn’t come along that often.”

The tools are being used in a variety of externally funded short-term research projects, long-term interpretive geologic studies, and for teaching and demonstration for students, drillers, and professional groups. The National Science Foundation (NSF) provided some of the funding for the purchase of this specialized equipment and its software.