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Bradfield Environmental Services, Inc. has located, drilled, and developed ground water wells capable of producing one to three million gallons of water per day for the cities of Erwin, Elizabethton, Decatur, Athens, and Loudon, Tennessee. All of these Public Water Systems have realized significant savings in construction and treatment costs that quickly offset the cost of developing their ground-water resources. Information about ground-water source development and discussions of investigations have been published in Tennessee Public Works Magazine. Published articles discuss the local geology, the number of wells required to locate suitable sources for each utility, and the results of aquifer tests. The benefits of using ground water include more stable water quality that reduces the amount of chemicals required to treat the water, a consistent water temperature, and lower concentrations of carbon that combine with chlorine to form carcenogenic trihalomethane chemicals.

2000 Gallons Per Minute for Loudon Utilities {PDF}

Developing large-producing wells in areas underlain by rock formations requires a detailed investigation to identify areas most likely to produce ground water. The geology of the study area is mapped at the 1:24,000 scale on topographic maps. Areas underlain by limestone formations are more likely to produce water than are areas underlain by shale formations. Most water movement in areas underlain by rock is along faults and bedding-plane openings between different geologic formations.

The discharge of streams in the study area is then measured at 15 to 20 sites to identify those reaches of streams that are gaining water from the ground water system and those reaches of streams that are losing surface water to the ground water system. Drainage areas for each measurement site are also mapped, enabling a comparison of different areas based on the volume of stream discharge per square mile. Productive wells are often located in areas with losing or dry reaches of streams.

Once specific areas likely to produce ground water are identified, a number of test wells are drilled. The number of wells required will depend on the size of the area considered and on local geologic and hydrologic conditions. Because of the difficulties in locating fractures in rock formations, it is critical that enough wells are drilled to fully explore an area for ground water. Those wells that appear to produce large volumes of water as the well is being drilled are selected for aquifer tests. Productive wells are pumped for a minimum of 24 hours to establish the sustainable yield of the well and the amount of draw down in water levels associated with pumping over an extended period of time.

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