Groundwater Monitoring Part of Santee Cooper’s Mission
2018 was a year of heavy rain in South Carolina and the flooding associated with Hurricane Florence was the icing on the cake.
South Carolinians were tired of dodging puddles of water in parking lots, tired of saturated lawns and tired of rain. However, there is an upside to all that rain and that is the groundwater aquifers were being naturally replenished.
Groundwater is an important natural resource. Less than 1 percent of water on Earth is available for human use, 99 percent of which is groundwater.
The rest is oceans, polar ice caps or groundwater that is not accessible. We require groundwater for drinking, growing food, for various industries and keeping golf courses green.
Our dependence on groundwater and the amount we use in the U.S. every year is astounding. According to the National Groundwater Association, our country uses 349 billion gallons of freshwater every day and of this, 53.5 billion gallons of groundwater are used daily for agricultural irrigation. This means understanding the quantity and quality of this vital resource is important.
Santee Cooper’s environmental department’s role in preserving this natural resource is to monitor the groundwater quality around Santee Cooper generating stations.
Groundwater monitoring wells are placed in the shallow groundwater aquifer, so it can be monitored for overall water quality and trends. This shallow aquifer is not where drinking water wells reside nor is this drinking (potable) water. Drinking-water wells are in groundwater aquifers that are at much deeper depths. The groundwater wells located around landfills and ash ponds are sampled at Santee Cooper generating stations and the samples are sent to certified labs for testing.
The results are studied, trended and reported to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. Monitoring and trending the groundwater quality is an important step in ensuring the quality of the groundwater is protected. This infographic shows how groundwater is monitored.
Performing this critical work is another example of how Santee Cooper protects our environment.