Friday, March 4, 2016

Episode 306 (3-7-16): Groundwater Connections, for National Groundwater Awareness Week 2016

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:22)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 3-4-16.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of March 7, 2016.

This week, we revisit of a September 2013 episode on a widespread, widely used, but mostly unseen water resource that’s being celebrated nationwide this week. Have a listen for about 35 seconds to some mystery sounds and music, and see if you can guess the water resource that connects them all. And here’s a hint: get pumped and the answer will spring right up, especially if you’ve been deep in a cave somewhere.

SOUNDS - ~ 33 sec

If you guessed groundwater, you’re right! You heard two hand-driven water pumps, the names of several Virginia springs, and part of “In the Cave,” by the group Pepe Deluxé on the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Page County’s Luray Caverns. The slow but steady work of groundwater created the stalactites used by the organ, but you don’t have to go underground to see the role and value of groundwater. Groundwater wells supply many Virginia localities and thousands of citizens, providing about 12 percent of total water withdrawals in Virginia in 2014, excluding water used for power generation. Also, groundwater contributes to surface water bodies, as seen in springs and in streams that continue to flow even in times of low rainfall. In turn, groundwater is recharged from surface waters and rainfall, a process that takes days for shallow or porous aquifers, but centuries or longer for deep, hard-to-reach aquifers. Location, movement, surface connections, and uses: all contribute to making groundwater a challenging, vital, and vulnerable resource. And it makes National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 6-12, 2016, a good time to learn more about this resource. Information for doing so is available from the National Ground Water Association (the sponsor of “Groundwater Awareness Week”), the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Cooperative Extension, and other agencies and organizations. Virginians can also get help with groundwater and well questions from the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Master Wellowner Network, both operated by Virginia Tech’s Biological Systems Engineering Department; information on these programs is available through your local Cooperative Extension office.

Thanks to Quinn Hull for recording spring names from Blacksburg passersby, and thanks to Pepe Deluxé for permission to use parts of “In the Cave.” We close with another short excerpt of that music with a Virginia groundwater connection.

MUSIC - ~ 10 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463. Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment. Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode updates Episode 178, 9/9/13, which has been archived.

Thanks to Shana Moore, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, for her suggestions on this episode.

“In the Cave,” from the 2012 album “Queen of the Wave,” is copyright by Pepe Deluxé and Catskills Records, used with permission. More information about Pepe Deluxé is available at their Web site,; click on the “Album Companions” link on that page to access an article on the Great Stalacpipe Organ and the making of "In the Cave." A music video of the “In the Cave” is available on You Tube at “In the Cave” was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 158, 4/22/13.

The groundwater-pump sounds were recorded along the C&O Canal Towpath in West Virginia and at New River Trail State Park in Wythe County, Virginia.

The Virginia springs names were recorded in Blacksburg, Va., in August 2011 by Quinn Hull; used with permission of the people recorded. The recording was featured in Virginia Water Radio Episode 75, 8/15/11.

Diagram showing pathways and estimated travel times between groundwater aquifers and surface features. Diagram from the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Water Science School” Web site, at

Hand-driven pump in New River Trail State Park at its northern end in Pulaski, Virginia (Pulaski County),
August 31, 2013.
Big Spring just north of Leesburg, Virginia (Loudoun County), December 2006.

Used in AudioJulie Bolthouse, To manage groundwater, we need better information, Fauquier Now, 3/3/16 [commentary on groundwater importance in Fauquier County and Warrenton, Va., and local observances of Groundwater Awareness Week].

Luray Caverns (home of the Great Stalacpipe Organ), online at, or (You Tube video).

National Ground Water Association, “National Groundwater Awareness Week,” online at; “Protect Your Groundwater Day,” online at The Association, which is headquartered in Westerville, Ohio, also has a 2 minute/46 second video on groundwater protection, available online at

J. A. Poff, A Homeowner’s Guide to the Development, Maintenance, and Protection of Springs as a Drinking Water Source, Virginia Water Resources Research Center, Blacksburg, 1999; available online at

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “USGS Water Science School,” online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Status of Virginia’s Water Resources-October 2015,” online (as PDF) at (See Tables 1 and 2, pp. 10-11, for percentage of water withdrawals in Virginia from groundwater vs. surface water.)

Virginia Master Well Owner Network and Virginia Household Water Quality Program, online at These programs are coordinated by the Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering. The contact for both programs is Erin James Ling, 155 Ag Quad Lane, Room 400D, Biological Systems Engineering Department, Virginia Tech (0303), Blacksburg, VA 24060; phone (540 231-9058; e-mail: See also “Pulse of the Planet” (Web site: segments with Virginia well-driller Eric Rorrer and with Erin Ling; the three segments are as follows:
March 10, 2014: Water-Drilling
March 11, 2014: Water - Surface and Ground
March 12, 2014: Water-Well Maintenance

For More Information on GroundwaterCollege of William and Mary, “Rivers and Watersheds: The Geology of Virginia,” online at This site has maps of the major river basins in Virginia and provides detailed information on the geology of Virginia’s physiographic provinces and of the James and the Potomac-Shenandoah river basins.

Dave Mayfield, Could your sinks and toilets fight sea-level rise in Hampton Roads?, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 1/30/16 (on using treated wastewater to recharge groundwater in Hampton Roads area).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Web site, “Ground Water Rule,” at

U.S. Geological Survey/Virginia Water Science Center, online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Groundwater Withdrawal Permitting Program,” online at

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Water Supply and Quantity,” online at

Virginia Groundwater Protection Steering Committee, “Ground Water Basics,” at

Information specifically on caves, sinkholes, and other aspects of karst terrain:

Friends of the Virginia Cave Board, “Virginia Cave Week,” online at

National Speleological Society, online at

George Veni et al., “Living with Karst,” American Geological Institute Environmental Awareness Series, 2001; available online at

Virginia Cave Board, online at

Information specifically on water wells:

Charles W. Carlston, “Notes on the early history of water-well drilling in the United States,” Economic Geology (Vol. 38, pages 119-136, 1943); available online at (subscription may be required for access).

Fletcher G. Driscoll, Groundwater and Wells, Second Edition, Johnson Screens, St. Paul, Minn., 1986.

Bruce Misstear et al., Water Wells and Boreholes, John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, England, 2006.

Virginia Administrative Code, “Private Well Regulations,” (Sec. 12 VAC 5-630) online at “Design and Construction Criteria” are in Part III, starting at Section 12 VAC 5-630-350.

WaterAid, “Hand-dug Wells,” January 2013, online (as PDF) at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (; see particularly the Groundwater category, including the following episodes:

Caves (for Virginia Cave Week; featuring “In the Cave” by Pepe Deluxé), Episode 158, 4/22/13;
Springs, Episode 75, 8/15/11;
Well drilling, Episode 219, 6/23/14;
Winter precipitation and groundwater recharge, Episode 258, 3/23/15.


This episode may help with the following Virginia’s 2010 Science Standards of Learning (SOLs):

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme

4.9 - Va. natural resources, including watersheds, water resources, and organisms.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme

2.5 - living things as part of a system, including habitats.
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; and water monitoring.

Earth Science Course

ES.6 – renewable vs. non-renewable resources (including energy resources).
ES.8 - influences by geologic processes and the activities of humans on freshwater resources, including identification of groundwater and major watershed systems in Virginia.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

Virginia Studies Course

VS.2 – physical geography of Virginia past and present.

World Geography Course

WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.3 - how regional landscapes reflect the physical environment and the cultural characteristics of their inhabitants.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at