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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5219

Prepared in cooperation with Wake County Department of Environmental Services

Fluctuations in Groundwater Levels Related to Regional and Local Withdrawals in the Fractured-Bedrock Groundwater System in Northern Wake County, North Carolina, March 2008–February 2009

By Melinda J. Chapman, Naser Almanaseer, Bryce McClenney, and Natalie Hinton

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ABSTRACT

A study of dewatering of the fractured-bedrock aquifer in a localized area of east-central North Carolina was conducted from March 2008 through February 2009 to gain an understanding of why some privately owned wells and monitoring wells were intermittently dry. Although the study itself was localized in nature, the resulting water-resources data and information produced from the study will help enable resource managers to make sound water-supply and water-use decisions in similar crystalline-rock aquifer setting in parts of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Physiographic Provinces.

In June 2005, homeowners in a subdivision of approximately 11 homes on lots approximately 1 to 2 acres in size in an unincorporated area of Wake County, North Carolina, reported extremely low water pressure and temporarily dry wells during a brief period. This area of the State, which is in the Piedmont Physiographic Province, is undergoing rapid growth and development. Similar well conditions were reported again in July 2007. In an effort to evaluate aquifer conditions in the area of intermittent water loss, a study was begun in March 2008 to measure and monitor water levels and groundwater use.

During the study period from March 2008 through February 2009, regular dewatering of the fractured-bedrock aquifer was documented with water levels in many wells ranging between 100 and 200 feet below land surface. Prior to this period, water levels from the 1980s through the late 1990s were reported to range from 15 to 50 feet below land surface. The study area includes three community wells and more than 30 private wells within a 2,000-foot radius of the dewatered private wells. Although groundwater levels were low, recovery was observed during periods of heavy rainfall, most likely a result of decreased withdrawals owing to less demand for irrigation purposes. Similar areal patterns of low groundwater levels were delineated during nine water-level measurement periods from March 2008 through February 2009. Correlation of groundwater-level distribution patterns with orientations of geologic structures obtained from surficial mapping, borehole geophysical measurements, and interpretation of fracture traces suggests two dominant trends striking north-south and N. 65° W.

A variation in overall response to groundwater withdrawals was noted in the continuous groundwater-level records for the monitored observation wells and dewatered private wells. The largest overall declines during the study period were observed in an observation well in which the water-level declined as much as 247 feet from mid-July through early August 2008, during a period of heavy usage. A private well had a water-level decline of about 94 feet during the same monitoring period. The large declines recorded in the observation well and the private well indicated a substantial temporary loss of storage in the fractured-bedrock aquifer near the wells, thus reducing the amount of water available to shallow wells in the area (those wells with total depths of about 300 feet), and resulting in temporary well failures until such time as the aquifer recovered.

First posted March 29, 2011

For additional information contact:
Director
USGS North Carolina Water Science Center
3916 Sunset Ridge Road
Raleigh, NC 27607
http://nc.water.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Chapman, M.J., Almanaseer, Naser, McClenney, Bryce, and Hinton, Natalie, 2011, Fluctuations in groundwater levels related to regional and local withdrawals in the fractured-bedrock groundwater system in northern Wake County, North Carolina, March 2008–February 2009: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5219, 60 p.



Contents

Acknowledgments

Abstract

Introduction

Background

Purpose and Scope

Description of the Study Area

Previous Studies

Methods of Investigation

Hydrogeologic Setting

Groundwater Withdrawals

Community Wells

Private Wells

Groundwater Levels in Northern Wake County, March 2008–February 2009

Groundwater-Level Fluctuations

Regional Patterns in Groundwater Levels

Factors Affecting Groundwater Levels

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

Appendix 1


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