The Megawatershed process embraces an integrative earth systems approach to groundwater exploration, utilizing geological and geophysical methods first developed for exploration in the petroleum and mineral industry. Dating back to the development of the Roman aqueducts, traditional water development has been rooted in assumptions shaped by thousands of years of surface and near-surface hydrological observations. While serviceable through much of history, these assumptions have certain limitations.
An outdated assumption, still maintained by some, is that the bedrock is impervious. We now know that, in most places, bedrock is highly fractured. Another inaccurate assumption underestimates the rate and volume of water infiltration on mountains. The earth’s water balance is calculated by measuring precipitation, runoff, evapotranspiration and infiltration. Precipitation and runoff are easily measured, but the measurements for evapotranspiration and infiltration are generally based on unquantified, often false, oversimplified assumptions. Unfortunately, these false measurement assumptions continue to be utilized without question.
By maintaining these false measurement assumptions, an opportunity has been missed by traditional hydrologists. Traditional hydrologists tend to view water development as an engineering exercise, as opposed to an exploration exercise, based on the view that water availability is a local phenomenon, with the assumption that groundwater exists only in close proximity to recharge areas, where precipitation infiltrates the subsurface. As such, these engineering projects develop water by collecting it, drilling into known aquifers for it, transforming it (from saline to potable) or transporting it. Traditional hydrologists focus on moving or manipulating known sources of water.
By viewing water development as a geological exploration process, it has been determined that billions of gallons of unobserved water infiltrates in mountainous terrains, traveling hundreds of miles through naturally occurring fractured-controlled conduits. These fracture networks were formed over millions of years by regional tectonic forces. In many cases, this water originates from high ground, travels great distances and emerges under water on the continental shelf, below the ocean’s surface, undetected.
The Megawatershed paradigm is a new understanding of hydrology, which is based on the following principals:
- The upper 10-15 kilometers of the earth's crust is brittle and responds to regional tectonic stresses by fracturing.
- Knowledge of the origins and history of the earth’s crustal stress fields results in an understanding of how and where new or under explored pathways for fluid flow at depth.
- Application of proprietary geological and geophysical knowledge yields predicable exploration targets and successful results.