The City of Columbus, Ohio, operates a municipal well field in southern Franklin County that is adjacent to a sand and gravel mining operation. Mining operations have the potential to alter ground-water flowpaths and change the sources of water to pumped wells. Previous ground-water-flow modeling of the area has shown that water pumped from the supply wells is derived from infiltration from nearby rivers and surrounding bedrock. Some of that water flows through existing quarries. Because water quality differs among these sources and is affected by the path along which water flows to the wells, five flow conditions were simulated to evaluate the influence of different mining scenarios on sources of water as related to the size and shape of contributing recharge areas (CRAs) to wells. The first simulation was based on a revision of an existing model by Schalk (1996). The second and third simulations included one in which a 20-foot layer of undisturbed aquifer material within the quarry above the bedrock is left intact, and another in which the 20-foot layer is removed. The fourth and fifth simulations included one in which the 20-foot layer of undisturbed aquifer material is left above the bedrock and the quarry is backfilled with fine- grained sand and silt (a byproduct of the mining operations), and another in which the 20-foot layer is removed before the quarry is backfilled with the fine-grained sand and silt.
The results of the five model simulations indicate that the overall volumetric budgets among models change only slightly in response to changing conditions at the quarry. The most significant change is noted in the amount of water that the aquifers gained from constant head and river leakage. This change is due to the way the quarries were simulated and lower heads in the aquifers compared to those in simulations made with earlier models. Previously published model simulations showed that the 5-year CRAs did not extend into the area of the newest sand and gravel quarry. In this study, however, the size and shape of the CRAs differ in response to the addition of two supply wells, and the 5-year CRA for one of these wells intersects the sand and gravel quarry.
Particle-tracking analysis indicates that the proportions of water from the principal water sources -- rivers, other quarries (excluding the quarry of interest), and bedrock -- stayed relatively constant among the model simulations. The number of particles that originate in the quarry of interest increased from about 1 percent of the total particles withdrawn through all wells when the 20-foot layer of undisturbed aquifer material was left intact, to 2 percent when the 20-foot layer was removed. In simulations in which the quarry of interest was filled with fine-grained sand and silt, the percentage of particles that travel through or originate in that quarry decreased to less than 1 percent of the total number of particles. Thus, the mining activities at the quarry of interest, combined with increased pumping at the two supply wells have only a small potential to change the overall water quality of water withdrawn from supply wells at the South Well Field.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of the effects of nearby quarrying operations on ground-water flow at the South Well Field, Franklin County, Ohio
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;
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