The effect of injecting reclaimed water into the Middendorf aquifer beneath Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, was simulated using a groundwater-flow model of the Coastal Plain Physiographic Province of South Carolina and parts of Georgia and North Carolina. Reclaimed water, also known as recycled water, is wastewater or stormwater that has been treated to an appropriate level so that the water can be reused. The scenarios were simulated to evaluate potential changes in groundwater flow and groundwater-level conditions caused by injecting reclaimed water into the Middendorf aquifer. Simulations included a Base Case and two injection scenarios. Maximum pumping rates were simulated as 6.65, 8.50, and 10.5 million gallons per day for the Base Case, Scenario 1, and Scenario 2, respectively. The Base Case simulation represents a non-injection estimate of the year 2050 groundwater levels for comparison purposes for the two injection scenarios. For Scenarios 1 and 2, the simulated injection of reclaimed water at 3 million gallons per day begins in 2012 and continues through 2050. The flow paths and time of travel for the injected reclaimed water were simulated using particle-tracking analysis.
The simulations indicated a general decline of groundwater altitudes in the Middendorf aquifer in the Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, area between 2004 and 2050 for the Base Case and two injection scenarios. For the Base Case, groundwater altitudes generally declined about 90 feet from the 2004 groundwater levels. For Scenarios 1 and 2, although groundwater altitudes initially increased in the Mount Pleasant area because of the simulated injection, these higher groundwater levels declined as Mount Pleasant Waterworks pumping increased over time. When compared to the Base Case simulation, 2050 groundwater altitudes for Scenario 1 are between 15 feet lower to 23 feet higher for production wells, between 41 and 77 feet higher for the injection wells, and between 9 and 23 feet higher for observation wells in the Mount Pleasant area. When compared to the Base Case simulation, 2050 groundwater altitudes for Scenario 2 are between 2 and 106 feet lower for production wells and observation wells and between 11 and 27 feet higher for the injection wells in the Mount Pleasant area.
Water budgets for the model area immediately surrounding the Mount Pleasant area were calculated for 2011 and for 2050. The largest flow component for the 2050 water budget in the Mount Pleasant area is discharge through wells at rates between 7.1 and 10.9 million gallons of water per day. This groundwater is replaced predominantly by between 6.0 and 7.8 million gallons per day of lateral groundwater flow within the Middendorf aquifer for the Base Case and two scenarios and through reclaimed-water injection of 3 million gallons per day for Scenarios 1 and 2. In addition, between 175,000 and 319,000 gallons of groundwater are removed from this area per day because of the regional hydraulic gradient. Additional sources of water to this area are groundwater storage releases at rates between 86,800 and 116,000 gallons per day and vertical flow from over- and underlying confining units at rates between 69,100 and 150,000 gallons per day.
Reclaimed water injected into the Middendorf aquifer at three hypothetical injection wells moved to the Mount Pleasant Waterworks production wells in 18 to 256 years as indicated by particle-tracking simulations. Time of travel varied from 18 to 179 years for simulated conditions of 20 percent uniform aquifer porosity and between 25 to 256 years for 30 percent uniform aquifer porosity.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of Reclaimed-Water Injection and Pumping Scenarios and Particle-Tracking Analysis near Mount Pleasant, South Carolina