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South Atlantic Water Science Center (SAWSC)

Georgia Geologic Survey Information Circular 57


Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division, Georgia Geologic Survey

D. W. Hicks, R. E. Krause, and J. S. Clarke

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From 1960 to the present(1978), the Albany-Dougherty County Metropolitan Area of southwest Georgia has experienced a period of rapid growth. This rapid growth has caused ground-water use to more than triple during the past 20 years, presently averaging about 39.4 million gallons per day. Large withdrawals in the Albany area have caused water levels to decline in one aquifer as much as 135 feet since 1940.

Ground water in the Albany area is obtained from four aquifers of Late Cretaceous to middle Tertiary age that range in depth from about 40 to 960 feet below land surface. From deepest to shallowest the aquifers are: the Providence (sand), the Clayton (limestone), the Tallahatta (sand), and the Ocala (limestone). Ground water is present in the under- lying Cusseta Sand at depths of about 1,250 to 1,500 feet; however, high drilling costs, low yields, and excessive concentrations of chloride (422 milligrams per liter) and dissolved solids (1,610 milligrams per liter) in Cusseta waters make development of this unit undesirable.

Well yields range from less than 25 gallons per minute in the Providence and Clayton aquifers, to more than 2,000 gallons per minute in the Ocala aquifer. Areal variations in the hydraulic conductivity of the Providence,Clayton,and Ocala aquifers cause yields to vary throughout the Albany area. The productivity of the Providence and Clayton aquifers progressively increases toward the west and north- west parts of the area, where well yields of about 2,000 gallons per minute arc reported from the Clayton. The Tallahatta aquifer generally yields from 1,000 to 1,400 gallons per minute to wells and does not exhibit significant areal variations in hydraulic conductivity throughout the report area. The productivity of the Ocala aquifer decreases in the west and northwest parts of the area where the limestone comprising the aquifer becomes thinner and less permeable

Due to the relatively low hydraulic conductivity of the Providence,Clayton,and Tallahatta aquifers,large groundwater withdrawals in the Albany area have produced widespread depressions in the potentiometric surface of each aquifer. Accelerated agricultural use of the Clayton aquifer to the northwest in parts of Dougherty,Terrell,and Calhoun Counties has elongated and expanded the cone of depression at Albany about 14 miles in that direction. Increased pumpage could limit the availability of water from the Clayton aquifer.

Heavy pumping has increased the naturally occurring head differences between the Providence,Clayton,Tallahatta, and Ocala aquifers in the Albany area and has enhanced the possibility of leakage of water through the intervening confining layers that separate these aquifers. The total amount of leakage from the Providence into the Clayton and from the Ocala into the Tallahatta, and the areal extent of this leakage, is presently unknown. Brine- trace studies made in eight wells at Albany indicate that in addition to leakage through confining layers, about 1.1 million gallons of water per day recharge the Clayton aquifer through idle multiaquifer wells that also penetrate the Providence and Tallahatta aquifers of higher head.

Water in the Providence,Clayton,Tallahatta,and Ocala aquifers is suitable for most uses and generally contains no constituent concentrations that exceed the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for safe drinking water. However. in areas where the Ocala is poorly confined or is in direct contact with surface water, localized water-quality changes are possible.

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For additional information contact:
Director, South Atlantic Water Science Center - Georgia
U.S. Geological Survey
1770 Corporate Drive
Suite 500
Norcross, GA 30093
(678) 924-6700

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