A request by the Monroe County Commission for a hydrogeological study (i.e., what’s the story with our underground water?) has turned into a boon for the county that will have lasting value for our community, public service districts and public officials—not to mention our watersheds!
The Commission’s request made its way to the US Geological Survey (USGS), which had already targeted the Greenbrier aquifer in Monroe and Greenbrier Counties as a high priority for closer study because of the vulnerable karst terrain.
After a field visit and meeting in the county, a proposal by a USGS team led by Mark Kozar was presented to the Monroe County Planning Commission. In August 2017, it was announced that funding commitments had been secured and the project began in Fall 2017. (See “Funding In Place for Monroe County Water Study”–Monroe Watchman)
The purpose of the USGS hydrogeologic assessment is “to supply Monroe County with information to make science-based decisions on water resources supply and management.”
Two areas of special concern are: 1) the potential degradation of aquifers associated with conversion of agricultural, forested, or undeveloped lands for purposes of economic development, and 2) water availability for current and future anticipated economic growth.
This study will help county residents and officials make better informed choices about, for example, where to drill a new well, where best to locate different kinds of facilities, what areas need special protection or where to look for additional sources of water for public service districts.
Specific objectives are to:
- Develop a hydrogeologic framework for karst and non-karst aquifers in Monroe County–mapping bedrock extents, thicknesses and hydrologic properties of aquifers;
- Determine directions of groundwater flow by creating maps of groundwater levels; and use dye-tracer tests to delineate source-water protection areas for select public supply springs and wells;
- Define the volumes or rates of water flowing into and out of aquifers for both karst and non-karst aquifers;
- Assess the depth of solution development in karst areas, characterize fracture and bedding controls on groundwater flow processes, and develop a better understanding of the groundwater flow system through borehole geophysical log data.
The USGS-led study will also benefit from collaboration with WVU geology professor Dorothy Vesper and graduate student Emily Bausher, who have been working in the county to study and monitor the springs along Peters Mountain.