Ground Water’s Role in South Carolina’s Economy
What is Groundwater?
Groundwater is an underground resource which comes from surface water (primarily rain and melting snow) that infiltrates the earth through the cracks and open spaces in rocks and soil. Saturated layers below the “water table” that store and transmit significant quantities of groundwater are called aquifers.
About half of our nation’s drinking water comes from groundwater most of which is through public supply wells. In suburban and rural areas many families receive their fresh water from private wells.
A “watershed” is the land area where water soaks through the earth recharging the aquifer or saturated zone. The water table is the line below which the ground is saturated with groundwater and available for pumping. During dry seasons it is common for the water table to drop.
Keeping groundwater clean from surface contaminates is critical and is everyone’s responsibility. Fuel spills, underground storage tanks, poorly constructed or deteriorating wells are all potential routes of groundwater contamination.
Groundwater Use In South Carolina
- 39.2% of the population regularly use groundwater for their drinking water supply
- 854,135 residents are served by privately owned wells
- 512,046 residents are served by ground water supplied community water systems
- Major South Carolina Users:
Public supply – 107 Mgal/d
Individual households – 71 Mgal/d
Irrigation – 27 Mgal/d
Livestock/Aquaculture – 12 Mgal/d
Industrial (self-supplied) – 60 Mgal/d
Thermoelectric – 39 Mgal/d
(Mgal/d – millions of gallons per day)
Groundwater Industry Employment for South Carolina Residents
- 315 well contracting firms employ estimated 1,729 people with estimated annual sales of $181.3 million
- 20 hazardous waste management firms employ estimated 739 people with estimated annual sales of $91.6 million
- 60 remediation & industrial service firms employ estimated 1,862 people with estimated annual sales of $178.7 million
- 49 environmental consulting & engineering firms employ estimated 2,230 people with estimated annual sales of $200.6 million
Information provided by National Ground Water Association