Rainy season brings hardships and benefits to S.C., Ga. | savannahnow.com

1
Sep

Rainy season brings hardships and benefits to S.C., Ga. | savannahnow.com

COLUMBIA— The rainy summer has done more than breed mosquitos and drench crops.

Months of downpours have refreshed the Floridan Aquifer.

If only just a little.

“The rains have had a noticeable effect,” said Scott Harder, a hydrologist for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. “We are not seeing the typical drawdowns at many sites that occur during this time of year, and in some cases water levels are increasing.”

He said it’s likely attributed to a combination of groundwater recharge and reduced irrigation and pumping from the Floridan.

For one thing, when it’s always raining, people aren’t as eager to water their lawns and golf courses.

The aquifer is a natural water bank made of limestone and dolomite, that serves as a primary source of water almost 10 million people. It extends 100,000 square miles beneath southern Alabama, southeastern Georgia, southern South Carolina and all of Florida.

But Harder and other experts agree any extra water won’t do anything to relieve the effects of saltwater intrusion, which threatens the water supply most immediately in Hilton Head Island and parts of greater Bluffton.

“While the abundant rainfall has helped to recharge all of our groundwater systems, the upper Floridan is a deeper aquifer, and it would take many years for this recent rainfall to reach the aquifer beneath Hilton Head Island,” said David Baize, assistant chief of S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Water.

“Saltwater is entering the upper Floridan aquifer due to pumping of the groundwater from wells, and no amount of natural recharge would be able to stop the saltwater intrusion caused from this pumping.”

For the area’s water supplier, the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority, the heavy rainfall brought a special odor and color to the water, at least temporarily, because organic material was swept into the Savannah River. It has since been fixed.

Still, BJWSA spokesman Matthew Brady pointed to the good side of the wet conditions.

“Lakes Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond have fully recovered from the drought and are full,” he said. “This is good news, but releases from the lakes increased significantly in July due to the continuing rain.”

via Rainy season brings hardships and benefits to S.C., Ga. | savannahnow.com.

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