Dewatering of the Clayton Formation during construction of the Walter F George Lock and Dam, Fort Gaines, Clay County, Georgia

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2-73




Walter F. George Lock and Dam, the largest manmade structure in the South, extends over 2llz miles across the flood plain of the Chattahoochee River at Fort Gaines, Clay County, in southwest Georgia and in Henry County, in southeast Alabama. The multipurpose dam consists of two rolled-filled earth dikes, a concrete spillway, a single-stage lock with an 88-foot lift, and a 130,000 kilowatt capacity powerhouse. The foundation of the dam at the river is constructed in the Clayton Formation, and the earth dikes are constructed on river terraces at about 150 feet above msl (mean sea level). At the damsite, the top of the Clayton Formation consists of an "earthy" limestone, which is about 35 feet thick except in the river channel, where it is 12 to 15 feet thick; a "shell" limestone, which averages about 40 feet thick; and a basal "sandy" limestone, which averages about 35 feet thick. The Providence Sand underlies the "sandy" limestone and its thickness is about 175 feet at the damsite. These formations contain water under artesian conditions. The "shell" unit of the Clayton was the principal water-bearing formation pumped during construction of the lock and dam. The large yields of the wells from concentrated areas over extended periods of time indicate that in the vicinity of the Chattahoochee River, the Clayton Formation is a productive aquifer with transmissivity ranging from 48,000 to 77,000 gpd per ft. (gallons per day per foot) and storage coefficient ranging from 2.5 x 10?3 to 2.8 x 10?5. At the spillway site, pumpage ranged from an average of 1,700 to 8,400 gpm (gallons per minute) during the period April 1957 to July 1959; at the powerhouse site, pumpage ranged from 1,600 to 5,000 gpm during the period October 1957 to September 1961; and at the lock site, pumpage ranged from 4,000 to 5,000 gpm during the period July 1960 through December 1961. The large yields represent a source of large quantities of ground water available for industrial and other uses in an area readily accessihle by barge from the Gulf of Mexico to Columbus, Ga. During dewatering, the potentiometric surface was lowered from a pre-pumping altitude of about 115 to 120 feet above msl to a minimum altitude of about 40 feet above msl, or near the bottom of the "shell" limestone. The stage of the Chattahoochee River ranged from about 20 to 60 feet above the potentiometric surface at the dewatering sites. The Chattahoochee River seemingly is recharging the Clayton Formation near the damsite, possibly through large solution cavities such as were observed during construction of the spillway site at the river. Furthermore, a "honeycombed" network of large solution holes caused the collapse of a section of "earthy" limestone near the powerhouse site. Some underground leakage is expected to occur at the damsite because of the cavernous condition of the limestone, particularly on the Alabama side of the river.

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USGS Numbered Series
Dewatering of the Clayton Formation during construction of the Walter F George Lock and Dam, Fort Gaines, Clay County, Georgia
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
Contributing office(s):
South Atlantic Water Science Center
v, 22 p.
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United States
Alabama, Georgia
Clay County
Fort Gaines
Other Geospatial:
Walter F George Lock and Dam
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