Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Episode 575 (5-3-21): Making Connections to Groundwater

Click to listen to episode (4:52)

Sections below are the following:

Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.)

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 4-30-21.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 3, 2021.  This revised episode from March 2015 is part of a series this spring of episodes on a widespread, widely used, but mostly unseen water resource: groundwater.  Have a listen for about 35 seconds to some mystery sounds and music, and see if you can guess three connections to groundwater.  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 and MUSIC (instrumental) ~ 34 sec

If you guessed pumps, springs, and caves or caverns, you’re right!  You heard two hand-driven wellwater pumps; groundwater coming to the land surface in a Giles County spring; 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 into underground caverns to see the role and value of groundwater.  Groundwater wells supply many Virginia localities, citizens, and industries, providing about 11 percent of total water withdrawals in Virginia in 2019, excluding water 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 of these factors contribute to making groundwater a challenging, vital, and vulnerable resource.  And they make it important for citizens to be aware of groundwater. Spring’s a good time to do so.  National Groundwater Awareness Week, sponsored by the National Ground Water Association, is held each March; 2021 has been designated as the International Year of Caves and Karst, and May 8 is the date for the Virginia Cave Board’s program in observance of the event; and the 2021 version of Virginia Cave Week, organized by the Cave Board, is June 6-12.

All year round, Virginians can get groundwater information from various agencies and organizations.  Here are some key ones: the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality; the U.S. Geological Survey’s Water Science Center in Richmond; and the Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Well-owner Network, both operated by Virginia Tech’s Biological Systems Engineering Department.  More information about the Virginia Tech programs is available from your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.

Thanks to Pepe Deluxé for permission to use parts of “In the Cave,” and we close with another short excerpt of that music with a Virginia groundwater connection.

MUSIC - ~ 14 sec – instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at virginiawaterradio.org, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” 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 and replaces Episode 306, 3-7-16.

Virginia Water Radio thanks Shana Moore, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, for her suggestions in 2016 on the previous version of this episode.

The groundwater-pump sounds were recorded by Virginia Water Radio along the C&O Canal Towpath in West Virginia, on July 9, 2010; and at New River Trail State Park in Pulaski, Virginia, on August 31, 2013.

The spring water sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio on Angels Rest trail in Giles County on September 30, 2018.

“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, http://www.pepedeluxe.com/; 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 “In the Cave” is available on You Tube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkvvcN6rt-I.  “In the Cave” was previously used by Virginia Water Radio most recently in Episode 527, 6-1-20.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at http://www.bencosgrove.com.


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 http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclegwdischarge.html, accessed 5-3-21.

Hand-driven pump (one of the two pumps heard in this Virginia Water Radio episode) in New River Trail State Park in Pulaski, Virginia (Pulaski County), August 31, 2013.

Old Spring House in Winchester, Va., March 24, 2008.


Used for Audio 

Friends of the Virginia Cave Board, “Virginia Cave Week,” online at https://www.vacaveweek.com/.

International Year of Caves and Karst, online at http://iyck2021.org/. 

Luray Caverns (home of the Great Stalacpipe Organ), online at http://luraycaverns.com/discover/caverns.  A 4 min./2 sec. video on the Great Stalacpipe Organ is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crxmaFK31Fk.

National Ground Water Association, “National Groundwater Awareness Week,” online at https://www.ngwa.org/get-involved/groundwater-awareness-week/groundwater-awareness-week-2021.  Also see the “About Groundwater” link at https://www.ngwa.org/what-is-groundwater/About-groundwater, and a 2 minute/46 second video on groundwater protection at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pPm-3Y8GOoo.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “USGS Water Science School/Groundwater,” online at https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/groundwater.

U.S. Geological Survey/Virginia and West Virginia Water Science Center, online at https://www.usgs.gov/centers/va-wv-water. 

Virginia Cave Board, online at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/cavehome.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Ground Water,” online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/permits-regulations/permits/water/water-withdrawal/ground-water. 

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Status of Virginia’s Water Resources-October 2020,” online (as a PDF) at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/home/showpublisheddocument?id=2119.  For water withdrawal information cited in this episodes, see the Executive Summary, page vii.

Virginia Tech Department of Biological Systems Engineering, “Virginia Household Water Quality Program and Virginia Well Owner Network,” online at http://www.wellwater.bse.vt.edu/index.php.  The contact for both programs is Erin Ling, 1230 Washington Street SW, Room 302, Virginia Tech (0554), Blacksburg, VA 24060; phone (540 231-9058; e-mail: wellwater@vt.edu.

For More Information about Groundwater

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 https://pubs.geoscienceworld.org/segweb/economicgeology/article/38/2/119/15747/Notes-on-the-early-history-of-water-well-drilling (subscription may be required for access).

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

National Speleological Society, online at http://www.caves.org/.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “Ground Water and Drinking Water,” online at https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water.

George Veni et al., “Living with Karst,” American Geological Institute Environmental Awareness Series, 2001; available online at http://www.agiweb.org/environment/publications/karst.pdf.

Virginia Administrative Code, “Private Well Regulations,” Section 12 VAC 5-630, online at https://law.lis.virginia.gov/admincode/title12/agency5/chapter630, [“Design and Construction Criteria” are in Part III, starting at Section 12 VAC 5-630-350.]

Virginia Water Resources Research Center groundwater-related publications from the 1980s to the 2000s are listed and linked online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/23964/discover?rpp=10&etal=0&query=groundwater&group_by=none&page=3.  Here are three key publications:
*Author unidentified, A Guide to Private Wells, 1995, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/55265.
*J.A. Poff, A Guide to Virginia’s Groundwater, 1997, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/55247.
*J.A. Poff, A Homeowner’s Guide to the Development, Maintenance, and Protection of Springs as a Drinking Water Source, 1999, online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/55268.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (http://www.virginiawaterradio.org/p/index.html). 

Following are links to other groundwater-related episodes.  Note that some of these episodes are being re-done in May-June 2021; in those cases, the links below will redirect you to the updated episodes.

Caves, caverns, and other karst features – Episode 527, 6-1-20.
Eastern Virginia groundwater and the SWIFT project –
Episode 534, 7-20-20.
Information sources on Virginia’s water resources generally, including groundwater – Episode 546, 10-12-20.
Springs –
Episode 75, 8-15-11.
Testing water from wells and other household sources –
Episode 361, 3-27-17.
Virginia’s Western Highlands and thermal springs –
Episode 379, 7-31-17.
Well construction –
Episode 219, 6-23-14.
Winter precipitation and water supplies, including the role of groundwater replenishment –
Episode 567, 3-8-21.


Following are some Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) that may be supported by this episode’s audio/transcript, sources, or other information included in this post.

2020 Music SOLs 

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2018 Science SOLs 

Grades K-3 plus 5: Matter
K.4 – Water is important in our daily lives and has properties.
3.3 – Materials interact with water. 

Grades K-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.
5.8 – Earth constantly changes.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
K.11 – Humans use resources.
1.8 – Natural resources can be used responsibly, including that most natural resources are limited.
3.8 – Natural events and humans influence ecosystems.
4.8 – Virginia has important natural resources.

Grade 6
6.6 – Water has unique physical properties and has a role in the natural and human-made environment.
6.8 – Land and water have roles in watershed systems.
6.9 – Humans impact the environment and individuals can influence public policy decisions related to energy and the environment.

Life Science
LS.5 – Biotic and abiotic factors affect an ecosystem.
LS.9 – Relationships exist between ecosystem dynamics and human activity.

Earth Science
ES.6 – Resource use is complex.
ES.8 – Freshwater resources influence and are influenced by geologic processes and human activity.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-3 Geography Theme
1.6 – Virginia climate, seasons, and landforms.

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – natural, human, and capital resources.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.8 – government at the local level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 – how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including climate, weather, and how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 – types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT.15 – role of government in Va. and U.S. economies, including examining environmental issues and property rights.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/testing/.

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15
– on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15
– on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16
– on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16
– on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18
– on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18
– on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18
– on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18
– on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19
– on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.
Episode 524, 5-11-20
– on sounds by water-related animals, for elementary school through high school.
Episode 531, 6-29-20
– on various ways that animals get water, for 3rd and 4th grade.
Episode 539, 8-24-20
– on basic numbers and facts about Virginia’s water resources, for 4th and 6th grade.