Groundwater Assessment Program Research Projects
The Groundwater Assessment Program conducts groundwater and surface water-related research projects. In addition to these ongoing research projects, the Groundwater Assessment Program maintains a real-time system that monitors water levels in wells and springs in Alabama.
Statewide Groundwater Assessment
The Groundwater Assessment Program division of the Geological Survey of Alabama, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs Office of Water Resources (OWR) is conducting a comprehensive statewide water assessment. Both the groundwater and surface water assessments were mandated as part of an initiative by Governor Robert Bentley and the Permanent Joint Legislative Committee on Water Policy and Management in an effort to develop a statewide water resource management plan and future water policy legislation.
The groundwater assessment includes data concerning stratigraphy, hydrogeological characteristics, current groundwater development and future groundwater development potential, production impacts, and groundwater availability and recharge, which will provide comprehensive knowledge of groundwater resources, which in turn will provide a foundation in support of future water management and policy decisions.
The initial groundwater assessment began in southeast Alabama, and is being expanded into southwest Alabama, and will continue in each county until the entire state of Alabama has been assessed.
Real-Time Monitoring Program
The Real-Time Monitoring Program monitors groundwater conditions throughout the state. Currently the program is comprised of 23 wells and 2 springs, located at varying depths in both semi-confined and confined aquifers.
The monitoring systems are equipped with automatic digital recording equipment and a telemetry interface system, which transmits data by cellular signal directly to the GAP office, where it is uploaded graphically to the GAP website daily.
Long-term hydrographs from monitoring wells provide an indicator of water level fluctuations affected by groundwater withdrawals, land use, and climatic changes. The period of record for some of the wells continuously monitored by the GSA is longer than 60 years, providing excellent data trend analysis. The response of groundwater levels to meteorological drought is generally slower than other drought indicators, such as soil moisture and stream flow, and can provide information related to drought intensity and duration. Percentiles are included with the real-time hydrographs to allow comparison of recent water levels with levels collected during the period of record.
Periodic Monitoring Program
The GAP monitors groundwater levels in 369 water wells and discharges for 49 springs throughout the state. The wells are both publicly and privately owned and have a variety of purposes including unused, public, industrial, private water supply, stock, and irrigation. Some of the records in this program are older than 30 years and reflect the changing climatic conditions and water use patterns in the state.
Public Water Supply Systems
The Groundwater Assessment Program actively provides assistance and information to public water supply systems. Assistance includes new source development and protection of water sources. Currently, the GAP is actively assisting the following public water suppliers: Dothan Utilities, Trussville Utilities, and Calhoun County Water Authority.
Choctawhatchee, Pea, and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Plan
Together, the Choctawhatchee, Pea, and Yellow Rivers watersheds cover a significant portion of southeast Alabama and are the only watersheds in Alabama that are overseen by a Watershed Management Authority. The Groundwater Assessment Program is currently preparing a comprehensive watershed management plan in cooperation with the Choctawhatchee, Pea, and Yellow Rivers Watershed Management Authority. This watershed management plan will address relevant issues within these watersheds and strategies for the future of the watersheds, thereby aiding in the protection and preservation of the watersheds.
Lillian Swamp, located in southeastern Baldwin County, just north of Lillian, Alabama, contains roughly 7 square miles of wetland habitat adjacent to Perdido Bay. In 2003, a portion of the swamp (1,452 acres) was purchased by the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Lands Division, as an addition to the Forever Wild Land Trust.
This incredible ecosystem is rich in biodiversity and supports many rare and federally listed species. The integrity of the swamp has been compromised in the past due to extensive draining that occurred during the late 1960s. Plans are being made to determine the potential to restore the hydrologic processes of Lillian Swamp to its former state, indicative of a wetland. The Geological Survey of Alabama has been commissioned by State Lands to assess the hydrogeology of the area. Hydrogeologic assessment includes characterization of surface-water/groundwater interaction, determination of directions of groundwater flow, quantitative assessment of groundwater recharge and discharge, establishment of a permanent groundwater monitoring network, and models to determine groundwater response to various restoration scenarios.
This is a two-phase project. The Phase I component involves pre-restoration analysis of discharge, sediment transport, and water quality in tributaries of Joe's Branch in Spanish Fort (Baldwin County), specifically a severely eroded area of an unnamed tributary to Joe's Branch immediately downstream from U.S. Highway 31. The Phase II component will assess the effectiveness of the stream restoration plan.
The GSAGAP is conducting an assessment of the Bon Secour River Watershed in southwestern Baldwin County to determine sediment loads and general surface-water quality data. The purpose of this study is to present this data so that the sources of sediment can be identified and land treatment efforts can be focused on sub watersheds with excessive erosion and sediment transport.
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