CFPUA: Water loss at Country Haven due in part to pumping of wells

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Dried-up ponds and wetlands that have plagued the Country Haven subdivision near Porters Neck are due in part to pumping of wells for an ongoing study of groundwater resources, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has determined.

Ponds and wetlands at Country Haven have been dried up since October, when the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority stopped pumping from nearby wells due to residents’ concerns. The pumping was part of a broader study of groundwater resources. Photo by Jonathan Spiers.

Water levels in the neighborhood, on the north side of Market Street near the Interstate 140 interchange, have dropped dramatically since last fall, when the authority stopped pumping from wells in the area in response to concerns from Country Haven residents. Since then, some water has collected from rainfall, without further seepage into the ground, resident Donald Caison reported to the board on Wednesday.

“Evidently this one isolated area has been dehydrated,” said Caison, who was involved in developing Country Haven. The water table, he added, “is down to just a few feet above sea level.”

An analysis conducted by Groundwater Management Associates, which is also conducting the broader groundwater study, determined the drop in water level is due to a number of factors, the well pumping among them. Lessened precipitation, changes to drainage due to development, and other factors have also affected the Castle Hayne aquifer that feeds most of the wells.

Bill Lyke of GMA said three main factors influence the aquifer: precipitation, construction and development, and groundwater withdrawal. While rainfall has lessened and the area has developed in recent years, Lyke told the board, “The lower precipitation and construction development isn’t enough to account for the drop in the water level by themselves.”

CEO Matt Jordan said the authority would follow the short-term recommendations included in the study, such as managing withdrawals from the Castle Hayne well field and “minimizing influence” on water levels in the aquifer near Country Haven.

“The longer-term solution is we want to get less dependent on the Castle Hayne aquifer,” Jordan said, adding that a goal is to draw more water from the nearby Pee Dee aquifer.

“The one variable we can control are the wells that we have. There’s no control over any of these other factors,” Jordan said, referring to the weather, development that has occurred and no regulation of private wells. “We’re trying to control the factor that we can.”

Meanwhile, the authority’s groundwater study will continue into the year, with the information gleaned from studying Country Haven.

“CFPUA will continue to monitor the situation and manage withdrawals from the well field,” the authority said in a press release. “Information from the completed study later this spring will help us ensure our approach is sustainable and appropriate.”

Jonathan Spiers can be reached at (910) 772-6313 or jonathan.s@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter: @jrspiers