The Upper Floridan aquifer is contaminated with saltwater in a 2-square-mile area of downtown Brunswick, Georgia. The presence of this saltwater has limited the development of the groundwater supply in the Glynn County area. Hydrologic, geologic, and water-quality data are needed to effectively manage water resources. Since 1959, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has conducted a cooperative water program with the City of Brunswick and Glynn County to monitor and assess the effect of groundwater development on saltwater intrusion within the Floridan aquifer system. The potential development of alternative sources of water in the Brunswick and surficial aquifer systems also is an important consideration in coastal areas.
During calendar year 2009, the cooperative water program included continuous water-level recording of 13 wells completed in the Floridan, Brunswick, and surficial aquifer systems; collecting water levels from 46 wells to map the potentiometric surface of the Upper Floridan aquifer in Glynn County during August 2009; and collecting and analyzing water samples from 55 wells completed in the Floridan aquifer system, of which 27 wells were used to map chloride concentrations in the upper water-bearing zone of the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Brunswick area during August 2009. Periodic water-level measurements also were collected from two wells completed in the Upper Floridan aquifer and four wells completed in the Brunswick aquifer system on Jekyll Island. Equipment was installed on one well to enable real-time specific conductance monitoring in the area surrounding the chloride plume.
During 2008-2009, water levels in 30 of the 32 wells monitored in the Brunswick-Glynn County area rose at a rate of 0.24 to 7.58 feet per year (ft/yr). The largest rise of 7.58 ft/yr was in the Upper Floridan aquifer. These rises corresponded to a period of above normal precipitation and decreased pumping. Declines during 2008-2009 were recorded in wells completed in the Brunswick aquifer system (0.37 ft/yr) and Lower Floridan aquifer (0.83 ft/yr).
Chloride data collected by two local industrial groundwater users at their well fields since 1958 were compiled and compared with data collected by the USGS during the same period. The results indicate that chloride concentrations at the two well fields have continued to rise despite modification of production wells to eliminate deep saline zones and decreases in pumpage at both facilities. One of the industrial users, Pinova Inc., plugged the lower portions of nine production wells in the mid to late 1960s, which generally decreased chloride concentrations to less than 100 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for a period of 10 to 20 years. However, chloride concentrations eventually returned to previous levels despite decreases in pumpage. During 1990-2009, chloride concentrations at the other industrial user's well field (Georgia-Pacific Cellulose LLC) generally increased despite a 16 million gallon per day decrease in pumpage during this period. Data from the Georgia-Pacific Cellulose well field and additional chloride data from USGS observation wells located to the east indicate continued movement of chloride from the source area located southeast of the site toward the well field.