Evaluation of Groundwater Resources Potential of Savannah Georgia Region
Aral, Mustafa Mehmet
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Long-term pumping from the Upper Floridan Aquifer (UFA) in the Savannah, Georgia area has lowered groundwater piezometric heads significantly in the region. This resulted in saltwater intrusion and brackish water contamination of the aquifer at Hilton Head Island, S.C. The aquifer is a primary source of drinking and industrial process water in the region, and various categories of users routinely apply to the State of Georgia Environmental Protection Division for groundwater withdrawal permits. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is a state agency, which is in charge of the management of the groundwater resources of the region for the benefit of all of its users. These users include the municipalities in the region, the industry, the agricultural users as well as the individuals residing in the area. In achieving this objective EPD's goal is the development of a long term groundwater management strategy, which will protect the UFA from further saltwater intrusion at the coastline while allowing additional groundwater withdrawals from the aquifer. To aid in this effort, in addition to their in house research activities, EPD has solicited the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) support to conduct various studies in the Savannah region. Ga. EPD used the results of these studies to evaluate groundwater withdrawal permit requests and to formulate interim water management strategies [EPD 1997] for coastal Georgia. These studies were based on the results of various groundwater flow simulations done for the Floridan aquifer system in the region and did not intend to evaluate spatial distribution of optimal groundwater withdrawals that may be available in the region, nor did they include regional management concerns other than the hydraulic management of the aquifer system. In this study, we propose a coupled simulation-optimization model to evaluate additional groundwater withdrawal potential from the UFA in the Savannah region. As an extension of this approach, we also provide a methodology, which incorporates management criteria other than the hydraulic management of the aquifer system into the decision making process for selecting the best groundwater management strategy. In doing so, we provide a review of the current knowledge on the hydrogeology of the region as well as other studies that addressed this problem.