Hydrology - Water Resources Report 30

Ground-Water Resources of Richland County, South Carolina

Roy Newcome, Jr.


Richland County, in central South Carolina, obtains nearly all of its public and industrial water supplies from the City of Columbia water system, which processes 62 million gallons per day from the Broad River at Columbia and Lake Murray on the Saluda River just west of the city.

The Fall Line, on which Columbia is located, divides the county's physiography and hydrogeology into two parts. The northwestern third is in the Piedmont, with its igneous and metamorphic bedrock exposed; and the remainder is in the Coastal Plain, which comprises sand-and-clay formations. Ground-water availability and quality in the two areas are greatly different.

In the bedrock area, water wells generally are several hundred feet deep and have low yields, commonly less than 10 gallons per minute. The water is usually alkaline, moderate in total mineralization, and hard. In contrast, wells in the Coastal Plain aquifers are capable of much larger yields-depending on location, as much as 2,000 gallons per minute. The water is acidic, extremely low in mineral content, and has almost no hardness; it frequently is within the range of rainwater's chemical quality.

Wells in the bedrock are widely used for domestic water supplies in the northwestern part of Richland County. Of more than 900 wells drilled in the county in the years 2001-02, one-third were bedrock wells.

Wells in the Coastal Plain sediments are used for domestic and small-irrigation supplies and, in the southern end of the county, for industrial supplies. In the Eastover area, several large industrial and farm-irrigation wells pump 2,000 gallons per minute or more. The county, below the Fall Line, has considerable additional ground-water supply potential. Its development is somewhat restricted, in places, by exceedingly deep water levels that reduce the drawdown available to wells in certain aquifer zones.

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Paper or electronic versions of this report are available from the SCDNR's Columbia office.