Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Episode 576 (5-10-21): An Introduction to Springs

Click to listen to episode (3:56)

Sections below are the following:

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

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 5-7-21.


 From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of May 10, 2021.  This revised episode from August 2011 is part of a series this year of groundwater-related episodes.

MUSIC – ~ 12 sec – instrumental

This week, that music opens an episode about a natural resource marking water’s transition from underground to the land’s surface.  We start with a series of guest voices and mystery names.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds, and see if you can guess what kind of water resource connects this series of names and, by the way, is in the title of this week’s opening music.  And here’s a hint: settlements around the world have SPRUNG up around this resource.

FLOWING WATER SOUND and VOICES - ~25 sec – “Yellow Sulphur, Laurel, Augusta, Iron Hill, Lacy, Willow, Highland, Glade, Virginia Mineral, Barren, Warm, Bloomer.”

If you guessed springs, you’re right!  The opening music is titled “John Ashe’s Spring,” by the western Virginia-based band New Standard, referring to a spring in Ivy, Virginia.  The guest voices called out some of the many Virginia places named for nearby springs.  Some places, such as Yellow Sulphur Springs in Montgomery County, developed as recreational or health-promoting attractions for bathers and spa-goers.  But many towns and other settlements grew up near springs because the springs provided access to convenient, reliable drinking water; in fact, many Virginia public water systems still use springs as a water source.

But what, exactly, is a spring?  Simply put, it’s a place where groundwater becomes surface water.  Springs appear where groundwater moves from underground storage areas to the land surface, particularly in low-lying areas and along hillsides or slopes.  Springs are found throughout Virginia, but most commonly in the western part of the Commonwealth among the Ridge and Valley region’s karst landscapes, which are also noted for caves, caverns, sinkholes, and sinking creeks.

Thanks to Quinn Hull for creating this episode and to citizens in downtown Blacksburg for lending their voices.  Thanks also to New Standard for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with about 20 more seconds of “John Ashe’s Spring.”

MUSIC – ~ 23 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 Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close this show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This Virginia Water Radio episode replaces Episode 75, 8-15-11.  The original episode was created by Quinn Hull, who recorded the guest voices in Blacksburg, Va., in August 2011.

“John Ashe’s Spring,” from the 2016 album “Bluegrass,” is copyright by New Standard, used with permission.  The title refers to a spring near Ivy, Virginia (Albemarle County).  More information about New Standard is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (1 min./11 sec.) of the “Cripple Creek” arrangement/performance by Stewart Scales that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Scales and the group New Standard, with which Mr. Scales plays, is available online at http://newstandardbluegrass.com.


Big Spring north of Leesburg, Va. (Loudoun County), December 10, 2006.

Piped spring along the Appalachian Trail in Washington County, Va., December 14, 2008.

Spring locations in a Virginia Department of Environmental Quality database, as of 2016.  Map accessed at http://www.deq.virginia.gov/Programs/Water/WaterSupplyWaterQuantity/GroundwaterCharacterization/SpringDatabase.aspx, on July 28, 2017; the map was no longer available at that URL as of May 11, 2021.


The following information was taken from 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 https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/55268.

(from pages 11-12): “In 1928, a team of geologists…explored Virginia’s fields and forest in search of springs.  They located over 500 springs in the Valley and Ridge Province.  Most of the springs were concentrated in the Shenandoah Valley and the counties of August, Rockbridge, Rockingham, Shenandoah, Bath, and Highland.  This is an area of karst topography, where water-soluble limestone is perforated by channels, caves, sinkholes, and underground caverns, and has an abundance of springs.  Researchers from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences at Virginia Tech continued this survey some 50 years later.  The research team located more than 1,600 additional springs.  Most of the springs were on private lands west of the Blue Ridge.”

(from pages 15-16): “Both cold-water and thermal (warm or hot water) springs are found in Virginia.  The Virginia Tech researchers located more than 1500 cold-water springs and 100 thermal springs.  The water temperature of cold-water springs averages between 52 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit (F), about the same as the mean air temperature.  Thermal springs with waters heated deep within the earth flow at temperatures of 100 to 600 F year-round. Warm springs have a mean water temperature greater than average air temperature but less than 98 F; hot springs have mean water temperatures above 98 F.”  


Used for Audio

Cultural Landscape Foundation, “Yellow Sulphur Springs (Christiansburg, Virginia),” online at https://tclf.org/landscapes/yellow-sulphur-springs.

DeLorme Company of Yarmouth, Maine, Virginia Atlas & Gazetteer, 2000.

Philip LaMoreaux and Judy Tanner, eds., Springs and Bottled Waters of the World:  Ancient History, Source, Occurrence, Quality, and Use, Springer-Verlag, Berlin and Heidelberg Germany, 2001; information available online at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321613235_Springs_and_Bottled_Waters_of_the_World_Ancient_History_Source_Occurence_Quality_and_Use (subscription may be required).

J.A. Poff, A Homeowner’s Guide to the Development, Maintenance, and Protection of Springs as a Drinking Water Source (Blacksburg: Virginia Water Resources Research Center, 1999), available online at https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/handle/10919/55268.

Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, “Virginia Natural Heritage Karst Program,” online at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/karsthome; see particularly “Introduction to Virginia’s Karst,” online (as a PDF) at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural-heritage/document/introvakarst.pdf.

Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, “Commonwealth of Virginia State Water Resources Plan,” April 2015, available online at https://www.deq.virginia.gov/water/water-quantity/water-supply-planning/virginia-water-resources-plan.

Virginia Museum of History and Culture, “The Regions of Virginia,” online at https://virginiahistory.org/learn/regions-virginia.

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 two 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.


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, following posting of this episode.  If that has occurred at the time you are viewing this post, the links below will redirect you to the updated episodes.

Caves, caverns, and other karst features – Episode 527, 6-1-20 (featuring Luray Caverns’ Great Stalacpipe Organ).
Eastern Virginia groundwater and the SWIFT project –
Episode 534, 7-20-20.
Groundwater introduction –
Episode 575, 5-3-21 (re-do of EP306 – 3/7/16).
Information sources on Virginia’s water resources generally, including groundwater –
Episode 546, 10-12-20.
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-5: Earth and Space Systems
3.7 – There is a water cycle and water is important to life on Earth.

Grades K-5: Earth Resources
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.

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 History Theme
1.2 – Virginia history and life in present-day Virginia.

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

Grades K-3 Economics Theme
2.8 – natural, human, and capital resources.
3.8 – understanding of cultures and of how natural, human, and capital resources are used for goods and services.

Virginia Studies Course
VS.1 – impact of geographic features on people, places, and events in Virginia history.
VS.10 – knowledge of government, geography, and economics in present-day Virginia. 

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.5 – factors that shaped colonial America and conditions in the colonies, including how people interacted with the environment to produce goods and service.

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.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 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.