ST. MARYS — State Sen. William Ligon says a test project this summer in Southwest Georgia to store groundwater in the Floridan Aquifer did not have the results supporters hoped.
Despite the disappointing results, Ligon, R-St. Simons Island, said there are still elected officials who want to store groundwater in the aquifer as a supply of drinking water and to stop saltwater intrusion. That’s a big concern for Ligon, who says people supporting the use of the aquifer to store groundwater need “a reality check.”
Saltwater intrusion in the aquifer is not an issue in Camden County, but Ligon said there are several “plumes” in Glynn County that are being monitored.
“We have to look at the geology of the Floridan Aquifer,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday. “We need to be proactive and protect our water sources.”
Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Ligon to a legislative subcommittee on saltwater intrusion, which will hold a public hearing to discuss the issue at 9 a.m. Thursday in the auditorium of the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography in Savannah.
Ligon said he believes some of the subcommittee members who will attend the meeting continue to support pumping groundwater into the aquifer despite the risks.
There is also the state of South Carolina to deal with, Ligon said. Saltwater intrusion is a major problem in Hilton Head, and South Carolina officials believe it’s because of the draw down of water in Savannah. South Carolina officials believe pumping groundwater into the aquifer is the way to solve the problem.
“I have heard from scientists, engineers, landowners, and they all agree we should craft common sense regulations to protect this reliable and pristine water source,” Ligon said. “For most of them, that means those regulations should include a moratorium on (aquifer storage and recovery) as Georgia has had in effect since 1999 until just this past year.”
Ligon is the sponsor of Senate Bill 36, proposed legislation that would renew the ban on the injection of groundwater into the aquifer.
He said there are too many uncertainties about injecting oxygen-rich groundwater into the aquifer, where it can cause a chemical reaction with the limestone, which could create arsenic.
“We have a responsibility to come up with solutions to prevent saltwater intrusion that affects not only our neighbors to the north, but affects us as well, just to a lesser degree,” he said. “At the same time, a good solution means we would not endanger the pristine waters of our Floridan Aquifer with other pollutants.”