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Helicopter to make low-level flights over Kings Subbasin, among other San Joaquin Valley areas

North Kings GSA landowners may see low-flying helicopter towing equipment during a four-week period starting in March

March 4, 2022

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) has issued a letter to notify stakeholders and landowners that airborne geophysical surveys are being conducted in the area. The surveys are being conducted in groundwater basins within portions of Kings, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Merced, and Stanislaus counties over a four-week period starting in March 2022.

Landowners may see a low-flying helicopter towing a large hoop with scientific equipment. The method is safe, and surveys have already been successfully conducted in several locations throughout California. Surveys will only be conducted during daylight hours and the helicopter will not fly over businesses, homes, other inhabitable structures, or confined animal feeding operations.

The survey is part of the California Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) project to conduct airborne electromagnetic (AEM) geophysical surveys throughout the state. The information collected will improve the understanding of groundwater resources and support the local and state goal of improved groundwater management and the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). The surveys are funded through voter-approved Proposition 68 and there is no additional cost to locals.

DWR’s video provides more information about AEM surveys:

A similar survey was conducted by Stanford University in December 2020 as a method to better understand the soil and geology in and around Fresno.

Check out the 2020 AEM survey helicopter flying over Pine Flat, and learn more about its importance to the local area:

The helicopter operator follows all established Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations, and their highest priority is public safety.

For more information about the surveys, visit DWR’s AEM project website. For questions, please email

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