The hydrology, water quality, and water-supply potential of four ponds constructed to capture stormwater runoff at Hunter Army Airfield, Chatham County, Georgia, were evaluated as potential sources of supplemental irrigation supply. The ponds are, Oglethorpe Lake, Halstrum Pond, Wilson Gate Pond, and golf course pond. During the dry season, when irrigation demand is highest, ponds maintain water levels primarily from groundwater seepage. The availability of water from ponds during dry periods is controlled by the permeability of surficial deposits, precipitation and evaporation, and the volume of water stored in the pond. Net groundwater seepage (Gnet) was estimated using a water-budget approach that used onsite and nearby climatic and hydrologic data collected during November-December 2008 including precipitation, evaporation, pond stage, and discharge.
Gnet was estimated at three of the four sites?Oglethorpe Lake, Halstrum Pond, and Wilson Gate Pond?during November-December 2008. Pond storage volume in the three ponds ranged from 5.34 to 12.8 million gallons. During November-December 2008, cumulative Gnet ranged from -5.74 gallons per minute (gal/min), indicating a net loss in pond volume, to 19 gal/min, indicating a net gain in pond volume. During several periods of stage recovery, daily Gnet rates were higher than the 2-month cumulative amount, with the highest rates of 178 to 424 gal/min following major rainfall events during limited periods. These high rates may include some contribution from stormwater runoff; more typical recovery rates were from 23 to 223 gal/min.
A conservative estimate of the volume of water available for irrigation supply from three of the ponds was provided by computing the rate of depletion of pond volume for a variety of withdrawal rates based on long-term average July precipitation and evaporation and the lowest estimated Gnet rate at each pond. Withdrawal rates of 1,000, 500, and 250 gal/min were applied during an 8-hour daily pumping period. At a withdrawal rate of 1,000 gal/min, available pond volume would be depleted in 13-29 days, at a rate of 500 gal/min in 24-60 days, and at a rate of 250 gal/min, in 44 to 130 days. In each case, Halstrum Pond had the largest amount of available pond volume.
The water-supply potential at the golf course pond was assessed by measuring flow downstream from the pond during February-July 2009, and examining historic stormflow measurements collected during 1979-87. Streamflow during both of these periods exceeded average daily (2005-2007) golf course water use. Assuming an 8-hour daily irrigation period, the average discharge rate required to meet Golf Course water demand during peak demand months of March-May and July-October exceeds 200 gal/min, with the greatest rate of 531 gal/min during July. During February-July 2009, daily average streamflow downstream of the golf course pond exceeded 238 gal/min 90 percent of the time.
Based on samples collected for chemical analysis during April 2009, water from all four ponds at Hunter Army Airfield is fresh and suitable for irrigation supply, with chloride concentrations below 12 milligrams per liter. With the exception of iron in Wilson Gate Pond, constituent concentrations are below U.S. Environmental Protection Agency primary and secondary drinking water maximum contaminant levels. Water in Wilson Gate Pond contained an iron concentration of 419 mg/L, which exceeds the secondary maximum contaminant level of 300 micrograms per liter. Although not a health hazard, when the iron concentration exceeds 300 micrograms per liter, iron staining of sidewalks and plumbing fixtures may occur. Levels of dissolved oxygen were below the Georgia Environmental Protection Divison standard of 4 milligrams per liter for waters supporting warm-water fishes at deeper depths in Oglethorpe Lake, Wilson Gate Pond, and Halstrum Pond, and in the composite sample at the golf course pond.