Virtual Hydro-Geologic Tour of Rockingham and Augusta
Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Groundwater Characterization Geologist Joel Maynard lent his expertise and enthusiasm to Headwaters Master Naturalists and guests in a program at the DEQ’s local office on Wednesday, June 26.
The presentation was attended by ten master naturalists and eight guests. Before zeroing in on the local hydrogeology, Joel described the work his Groundwater Characterization Program performs statewide. He briefly discussed the different geology and hydrogeology of the five different geophysical provinces. Particularly interesting was the recently-discovered effect that a large impact crater near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay has on aquifers in the eastern part of the state.
Joel also provided graphs showing how the pumping of huge quantities of water by paper mills in Tidewater lowered the water table over a surprising distance (up to 50 miles) from their wells. Closer to home, Joel presented maps showing the high-volume wells in Rockingham and Augusta, and he explained that, unlike in the coastal plain, here, there are no restrictions on how much water a municipality, industry, or farm can pump from a well … as long as high-volume users report their quantities periodically to DEQ.
He shared really cool videos of the inside of wells showing water flowing in and out of fractures and solution channels in the rock. He even had a video of the water in a well rippling during an earthquake, and showed graphs indicating how water levels in DEQ’s monitoring wells fluctuated during earthquakes occurring as far away as Ecuador.
Joel is fascinated by our area’s springs and has improved and expanded DEQ’s database on the Valley’s springs from 158 springs in 2006 to 1583 springs in 2019. In addition to studying the quality and volume of these springs, just the establishment of a baseline database of our springs will undoubtedly prove invaluable as development strains our groundwater resource. He also mentioned that, as a result of his work, a construction/staging area proposed for the Atlantic Coast pipeline was moved to protect the water supply for the community of Deerfield. It’s likely that Joel’s work will result in future spring and well-head protection measures in the Valley.
– David Forrer, Cohort VI, June 2019
Click on the image above for one of the videos featured in Joel’s talk. What’s at the bottom of this well?!
Click on the image above for an interactive map of Virginia wells and springs data which Joel has been instrumental in developing.
Thanks to Dave Forrer (at left in photo) for hosting this presentation!