Radon gas closes one of Helen’s five wells

13 09 2008

By Debbie Gilbert

Last week, the city of Helen shut down one of its five wells after a radioactive gas, radon, was detected in the water.

Helen city manager Jerry Elkins said the city should be able to get along fine with its remaining four wells. But the situation is a reminder that radon can be found not just in the air but also in water, and at high levels it can be a threat to human health.

“We voluntarily shut (the well) down, just to be on the safe side,” said Elkins, adding that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has asked the city to retest the well, to make sure the initial reading was correct.

Though located directly on the Chattahoochee River, Helen does not withdraw water from it and relies on wells for its water supply.

The affected well, located in the Innsbruck subdivision, is by far the lowest producing of the five, Elkins said.

“We only get about 5,000 gallons out of it every three days,” he said. “None of that water is pumped to downtown, and only about 10 percent of the water that goes to Innsbruck is produced from that well.”

Read on here.

Piedmont Park drills for water, but not all is well

13 09 2008


Sunday, September 14, 2008

It’s not unusual to get it wrong when drilling for water in North Georgia’s Piedmont region — or in Piedmont Park for that matter.

The area’s various rock formations can fool even the smartest geologists.The Piedmont Park Conservancy found that out recently when the second of two well-drilling attempts came up dry at the Midtown Atlanta park.

All the signs looked good. The spot, next to the lower meadow near the intersection of 10th and Monroe streets, was chosen by consultant Tom Crawford, a respected veteran well finder and professor emeritus of geology at the University of West Georgia.

But at best, finding a well in the bedrock of North Georgia is an educated guess, experts say.

“It’s not uncommon to identify a favorable location and have the yield not really be that high,” said Jim Kennedy, state geologist with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. The only way to know for sure, he said, is to drill.

Unlike in South Georgia, where cavernous aquifers beneath the sandy soil hold abundant amounts of water that’s relatively easy to access, the water beneath the ground in North Georgia is trapped inside joints and fractures in the rock.

“The trick is to find where the cracks and fractures are more concentrated,” Kennedy said.

The water comes from rain that has either soaked through the soil or fallen directly on exposed rocks.

In South Georgia, a well that pumps 1,000 to 2,000 gallons of water per minute is not uncommon. In metro Atlanta, however, a well that pumps 100 to 300 gallons per minute is considered high yield, Kennedy said.

The difference explains why South Georgians get most of their water from underground aquifers while North Georgians depend on rivers and lakes.

Read on here.