Feb 27, 2019

USGS Nears Completion on Saltwater Plume Report

The report will track the growth of a saltwater plume in groundwater serving Brunswick, N.J.

USGS nears completion of groundwater contamination report

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revealed that a report to track the movement and growth of a saltwater plume in Brunswick, N.J., groundwater is nearing completion. Tracking the saltwater plume is vital for protecting Brunswick’s drinking water quality, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A Hercules chemical resin plan that opened in the early 20th century and a Georgia-Pacific pulp mill opened in 1937 in the town. The two plants pulled water from the Floridan aquifer, peaking at more than 80 million gpd in 1980, reported The Brunswick News. The rapidly depleting aquifer allowed briny saltwater into the Fernadina permeable zone between the Floridan aquifer and the surface to infiltrate the groundwater.

While the intrusion was detected in 1957, the saltwater plume continued to spread as wells continued to pump groundwater. Despite reductions in groundwater pumping, the saltwater plume continues to spread. USGS has created a model to predict the plume’s movement and growth based on surface conditions. The model only awaits the results of recent tests and peer review to be complete.

“It’s taking those water level measurements and checking that the model is actually simulating what we call the head, or just above or below that. It gives you a good idea if its accurately predicting,” said Greg Cherry, a hydrologist with USGS working on the model. “It checked out very well, and most of the observations we have are close to the downtown Brunswick area, usually within a few feet.”

According to Cherry, the study and model to be ready by spring or summer. They will be released for public use once completed.