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South Atlantic Water Science Center - Georgia

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Assessment of Groundwater Flow Near the Savannah River Site, Georgia and South Carolina

Project Chief: Gregory S. Cherry
Cooperator: U.S. Department of Energy
Year started: 2002

Problem

Map of the study area

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) has manufactured nuclear materials for the National defense since the early 1950s. A variety of hazardous materials including radionuclides, volatile organic compounds, and trace metals, are either disposed of or stored at several locations at the SRS. As a result, contamination of ground water has been detected at several locations within the site and concern has been raised over the possible migration of water-borne contaminants offsite. Two issues have been raised:

  1. is ground water flowing from the SRS and beneath the Savannah River into Georgia; and
  2. under what pumping scenarios could such ground-water movement occur?

To address these concerns, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the DOE, conducted a comprehensive study during 1991-97 that simulated groundwater flow and stream-aquifer relations in the vicinity of the SRS. These groundwater simulations are limited by simplification of the conceptual model, which was based on available data through 1992. Large increases in groundwater pumping in Burke and Screven Counties, Georgia, since 1992, and a pronounced drought during 1998-2002 may have changed hydraulic gradients near the river and affected the potential for trans-river flow. To provide a more accurate and up-to-date evaluation of trans-river flow near the SRS, the earlier model is being updated to incorporate new data and simulate 2002 conditions. The revised model will be used to simulate a variety of water-management scenarios that could impact trans-river flow in the SRS area.

Objectives

  • Update the previously developed groundwater flow model to better define present-day (2002) ground-water flowpaths near SRS.
  • Utilize the 2002 calibrated model to identify groundwater flowpaths and quantitatively describe current groundwater flowpaths near SRS under a variety of hypothetical pumping scenarios.

Publications

Fanning, J., L., and Cherry, G., S., 2005, Development of water-use projections for groundwater flow models in the coastal plain of Georgia and South Carolina, Proceedings of the 2005 Georgia Water Resources Conference, held April 2527, 2005, at the University of Georgia. Kathryn J. Hatcher, editor, Institute of Ecology, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Cherry, G.S., 2003, Precipitation, ground-water use, and ground-water levels in the vicinity of the Savannah River Site, Georgia and South Carolina, 1992-2002, Proceedings of the 2003 Georgia Water Resources Conference, held April 2324, 2003, at the University of Georgia. Kathryn J. Hatcher, editor., Institute of Ecology, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

Simulation and Particle-Tracking Analysis of Ground-Water Flow near the Savannah River Site, Georgia and South Carolina, 2002, and for Selected Ground-Water Management Scenarios, 2002 and 2020. USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5195

Simulation of groundwater flow and stream-aquifer relations in the vicinity of the Savannah River Site, Georgia and South Carolina, predevelopment through 1992. USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4062

Groundwater levels, predevelopment groundwater flow, and stream-aquifer relations in the vicinity of the Savannah River Site, GA and SC. USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4197

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