Hydrology - Open-File Report 19

Investigation of Ground-Water Problems Near Vulcan Materials Marble Quarry, Cherokee County, South Carolina

Joffre Castro, Joseph Harrigan, and Lee Mitchell


Citizen complaints about wells drying up and having poor water quality due to blasting at a marble quarry prompted the Office of the Lieutenant Governor to request the South Carolina Water Resources Commission (SCWRC) to conduct an investigation. Since January of 1986 the Piedmont Office of the SCWRC has been conducting a study in the vicinity of the quarry. The study area is in northeastern Cherokee County, approximately 5 miles north of Blacksburg. About 210 people live in the 1.2 square-mile area that contain a trailer park, houses, farmland, and the Vulcan Materials marble quarry.

The quarry is situated on a portion of an elongated marble body that trends northeast-southwest through the area. The geology of the area is characterized by intensely folded and faulted rocks, which greatly influence ground water properties. Wells are generally of medium to low yield and water quality is generally good.

The Piedmont SCWRC Office set out on the following objectives: (1) To identify problems that local residents are experiencing; (2) To evaluate the extent of the problems; (3) To determine the cause(s) of these hydrologic problems; and (4) To present recommendations.

Water levels were measured in 31 wells during March of 1986 to construct a water table map. Automatic data recorders were installed on two deep wells to monitor water levels continuously. Blasting records and other information were obtained from the quarry.

The following conclusions were reached:


Several residents complained that, after blasting at the quarry, their wells would dry up temporarily or the water would become silty or have an “iron taste”. A more common complaint was that of ground vibration from the blasting, in some cases, causing structural damage to houses and/or wells.


An estimated 60 families live in the general area and 37 of these were contacted by the SCWRC. Fifty-four (54) wells were inventoried and descriptions of problems were taken from residents. Of the wells inventoried, 59 percent have had water problems. Of those wells with problems, drilling new wells solved 19 percent or installing water filters. Of the seven families still having problems, five have water quantity and quality problems while two have only water quality problems.

Causes of hydrologic problems:


This open-file report is available for review in the SCDNR's Columbia office.