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South Atlantic Water Science Center

Map of North Carolina highlighting the project study area

Project Overview

Full Title
Piedmont-Mountains Groundwater

 Iredell, Wake, Rockingham, Buncombe, Macon, Randolph, Orange and Watauga counties

Cooperating Agencies
North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources Division of Water Quality Aquifer Protection Section

Project Chief
Melinda Chapman

Period of Project

Team Members
Brad Huffman
Kristen McSwain
Steve Harden

Piedmont-Mountains Groundwater

This project was completed in 2012. These pages are for historical purposes only.

Project Summary

Photograph of real-time groundwater monitoring wells

Real-time groundwater-level and water-quality monitoring equipment at Bent Creek Demonstration Forest site.


Ground-water flow in the regolith-crystalline bedrock aquifer of North Carolina is complex and not well understood. The groundwater resources of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Physiographic Provinces are critical to the welfare of the State. A regional characterization of land use, groundwater quality, recharge and discharge relations, soils, land use, hydrogeologic characterizations, and groundwater flow is needed in order to appropriately manage the resources. However, detailed, site-specific information also is needed to understand and manage site-specific problems and solutions.

The existing ambient groundwater-quality monitoring network of wells is not currently sufficient to address groundwater-resource and water-quality questions in the NC Piedmont and Mountains. This project provides a program to assess ambient groundwater quality in the Piedmont and Mountain Region and identify water-quality trends. Both the water-quantity and water-quality aspects of an ambient groundwater program are needed to manage and protect the resource.


The investigation is designed as an ongoing program to improve the level of understanding of the groundwater system in the Piedmont and Mountain Region of North Carolina. The objective for year 1 (1999) of this investigation was to compile and evaluate existing hydrologic data from the Piedmont and Mountain Region of North Carolina, identify deficiencies in information and/or data, identify potential type areas for future intensive study, and generate a plan of study (Daniel and Dahlen, 2002) for subsequent years. The objectives for years 2-10 are to:


This program is an ongoing, long-term collaborative USGS/North Carolina Division of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) Division of Water Quality (DWQ) Groundwater Section investigation. Because of the inherent complexity of such a large regional area, a more feasible approach is to select areas of the Piedmont and Mountain Region that are most representative of the area's land use, geology, and hydrology to obtain an understanding of the hydrologic processes in these areas and transfer the knowledge from these areas to similar hydrogeologic areas. Research stations will be constructed in these type areas to facilitate data collection efforts. Hydrogeologists from the DENR DWQ Groundwater Section central office and five regional offices (Asheville, Mooresville, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Raleigh) will participate. Drilling equipment and crews will be provided by the DENR DWQ Groundwater Section's Kinston office.