Wells to be installed for groundwater research and educational program

Drilling and installation of groundwater wells at three Western Carolina University sites for research and educational purposes will take place Tuesday, Aug. 31, to Thursday, Sept. 2.

The wells will establish the WCU Hydrologic Research Station as part of the state’s Groundwater Resource Evaluation Program and will not be used as water sources. The well sites are near Wake Robin Drive past the intersection with Little Savannah Road, uphill of the fire station on Little Savannah Road and on the main campus in the vicinity of the former golf driving range and Catamount Athletic Complex, said Mark Lord, head of WCU’s geosciences and natural resources department.

WCU is a partner in the Groundwater Resource Evaluation Program, which was developed to assess groundwater in multiple geological settings and is coordinated by the Division of Water Quality within the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Ted Campbell, a hydrogeologist with NCDENR, leads the WCU project for the state and has collaborated with WCU students and faculty on a variety of environmental projects. Preliminary research on the hydrologic station sites was carried out by WCU geology students in a senior research class, and students made two presentations related to their research at the Geological Society of America meeting held last spring in Baltimore.

WCU geology students and faculty will continue to take water samples and assess data from the research sites to help evaluate groundwater resources and water quality, determine how groundwater and stream water interact, and examine the impact of development on water resources. They will examine such qualities as water levels, pH and nutrients.

“Understanding our groundwater resources is increasingly important as we see more development and, as we saw in recent years, with drought conditions that caused wells to run dry,” said Lord. “The more we know, the better informed we will be in making decisions that affect the quantity and quality of water in our community.”

For more information, contact Lord at 828-293-7367.