Saltwater contamination monitored daily in Brunswick, Ga.

High-tech equipment recently installed on wells now provides daily information to better protect Brunswick, GA, against saltwater contamination. The fresh-water supply in a two-square mile area near Brunswick is contaminated from saltwater. The USGS designed and recently installed an innovative measurement system using satellite telemetry to enable daily monitoring of the area of contamination. This new equipment will monitor against further contamination...

RESTON, VA, July 22, 2008 -- High-tech equipment recently installed on wells now provides daily information to better protect Brunswick, GA, against saltwater contamination. The fresh-water supply in a two-square mile area near Brunswick is contaminated from saltwater.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) designed and recently installed an innovative measurement system using satellite telemetry to enable daily monitoring of the area of contamination. This new equipment will monitor against further contamination to any surrounding fresh ground-water resources.

"In the past, we could only monitor salinity levels on an annual basis. Now, this new equipment will help monitor potential movement of saltwater to any surrounding fresh ground-water resources on a daily basis." This real-time capability is a critical tool for State and local authorities to manage water resources effectively" explained John Clarke, USGS hydrologist.

"These wells are extremely important as they provide an early warning system against further expansion of saltwater contamination into freshwater zones," said Keith Morgan, Director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission.

Saltwater contamination of ground-water aquifers is a serious issue for many coastal communities throughout the U.S. that depend on aquifers for their water supply. When ground water is removed at a rate faster than it is recharged, saltwater can migrate into freshwater zones. The Upper Floridan aquifer at Brunswick is vulnerable to saltwater contamination from deep saltwater zones that migrate through fractures in the rock and into freshwater zones.

These real-time-monitoring wells are part of a larger network of wells that the USGS samples for chloride concentration on an annual basis to determine relative movement of saltwater in the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Brunswick area. Ground-water levels and chloride concentrations in Brunswick-Glynn County have been monitored since the late1950s as part of the Brunswick-Glynn County Cooperative Water Program.

The wells were funded by the USGS, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, and the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Sewer and Water Commission. Assisting in issues related to water management in the Brunswick-Glynn County area is the Water Resources Management Advisory Committee, which consists of representatives from local government and private industry, and concerned citizens.

Data about these and other well sites is available at:
http://ga.water.usgs.gov/projects/projectcoastalgwquality.html

Information on USGS activities in the Brunswick-Glynn County area is available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2006/1368

USGS provides science for a changing world.

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