Water Wells – Impact on Neighboring Water Supplies

Q: I have noticed in my neighborhood that folks are drilling water wells to irrigate their yards thereby skirting state-mandated watering bans. Will this have a negative impact on the ground water supply that we all share?

A: According to Dr. Jim Kennedy, state geologist, most of the northern part of Georgia is above a layer of granite, gneiss, and schist. Groundwater is contained in cracks in the hard rock. A bored well extracts water from these fissures. The yield may be enough for home and garden use but is rarely adequate for municipalities. You are correct to worry that if too many high-yield wells are close together, less water might be available for all concerned. In addition, wells that withdraw groundwater that would otherwise seep out of the rock into a creek might reduce the base flow of the creek. That said, little research has been done to find out how groundwater removal in north Georgia affects streams. Regulating wells on private property is controversial because Georgia law basically states that “if you own the land, you own the water underneath it”. In my view, private wells could become a problem only when everyone has one, which isn’t likely to happen as long as we enjoy an average of 50 inches of rainfall each year.