Thursday, March 29, 2007

Can over development in the Smokies deplete ground water?

The answer is a resounding yes - over development does deplete ground water especially on the fragile ecosystems of mountains slopes such as those found in the Smoky Mountains.

Many homeowners who live in the Smoky Mountains that depend on well water for their drinking supply have found that that the drilling contractors they hire need to dig deeper and deeper to reach the water table as development continues.

Can over development in the Smokies deplete ground water?

Step ridges and mountainous areas have thinner soil which inhibits absorption of rain water and steep grades also allow of the much needed rainfall to run off to the valleys bellow. Steeper slopes most often have lower storage capacity aquifers that those in valleys.

Reducing ground surface are that can absorb water by building paved roads, sidewalks, patios and the footprint of a home foundation further reduce the natural percolation effect that soil has.

Of course more people drawing more water from the same source increases the depletion of ground water. Obviously more people dumping more waste into the same area further concentrate household toxins and harmful bacteria which can infiltrate the ground water.

During seasons of drought homeowners will find that shallower wells will dry up first as the water tables level drops. This is a serious issue in the Smokies as for example 56 percent of the 103,000 households in North Carolinas Buncombe County get their drinking and household water from wells.

Limiting excessive development especially in areas with steeper grades should help reduce the depletion of ground water. It is also advisable to bring municipal water into new areas being developed.

No only is bringing in municipal water when feasible a huge advantage to home owners in the Smoky Mountains as well as the environment, sending waste water out through a municipal sewer system rather than letting it back into the ground untreated just makes good sense.

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