Groundwater Crisis

Expert to talk about Stanislaus County groundwater model on Dec. 5

A just-completed computerized hydrologic model of Stanislaus County’s groundwater resources will be explained by its U.S. Geological Survey creator during a Dec. 5 presentation at Modesto Junior College.

Hydrologist Steven Phillips’ three-dimensional mapping program has taken more than a decade and $1.25 million in public funds to complete.

Stanislaus water agencies are expected to use the program in efforts to sustainably manage the county’s groundwater.

Phillips’ model is supposed to help decision makers better understand the natural and human influences on groundwater. It’s designed to be a tool for exploring the potential impacts of future land-use changes.

His work was based on data from thousands of Stanislaus water wells. The study area covers aquifers from just south of the Merced River to just north of the Stanislaus River, and from the San Joaquin River on the west to the Sierra Nevada foothills on the east.

The study was funded by the USGS; the Modesto and Oakdale irrigation districts; Stanislaus County; and the cities of Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale. The Turlock Irrigation District contributed groundwater data to the project.

Phillips has described his work as a water management optimization model to help agencies evaluate alternatives.

Subsurface geologic variability and processes associated with irrigated agriculture were used to develop the computer program.

Phillips will talk about how the natural complexities of geology combined with human actions affect surface and groundwater resources and their interactions.

His presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in Sierra Hall, Room 132, on the Modesto Junior College West Campus, 2201 Blue Gum Ave. The free event is sponsored by Modesto Area Partners in Science.

For more information about the MAPS program, visit or contact MJC professor Noah Hughes at (209) 575-6800 or

Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at or (209) 578-2196.