Groundwater Monitoring Program




Update on the status of implementing the Groundwater Monitoring Program.



Messrs.: Tucker, Foley, Kamptner, Graham, Benish, Swales





November 2, 2005


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This report is to inform the Board that the budgeted Groundwater Monitoring Program is currently in the planning stage and will begin implementation in the near future.


The Natural Resources & Cultural Assets section of the Comprehensive Plan lists 20 separate strategies related to groundwater.  Many of these address gathering data and utilizing groundwater data to develop plans and aid in decision making.  Various strategies call for water supply testing; conducting groundwater vulnerability mapping; seeking an effective way to collect, store, and use groundwater data; developing hydrogeologic testing policy; disseminating relevant information to groundwater users; and  developing a wellhead protection plan.  Each of these strategies would be aided by the establishment of long-term monitoring wells.


The Groundwater Committee was formed in the fall of 2000 based on authorizations from both the Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission.  Many Groundwater Committee meetings, five Planning Commission work sessions, two public hearings, and four Board of Supervisor work sessions took place during the development of the Groundwater Ordinance.   At the Board of Supervisorís December 8, 2004 meeting, the Board approved the modification of the Water Protection, Zoning and Subdivision Ordinances.  The effective date of the Groundwater Ordinance was February 8, 2005.


The Groundwater Ordinance requires groundwater assessments to be conducted prior to the approval of new subdivisions. In addition, the Ordinance requires aquifer testing under certain circumstances and drilling the necessary water well prior to receiving a building permit.


A Private Groundwater Testing Ordinance was adopted on May 4, 2005 as part of the Building Regulations of the County Code.  This Ordinance requires that prior to the issuance of a building permit for a structure to be located within an active contamination area and to be served by a private groundwater well as the primary potable water supply, the well must be tested for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes.


The recent passing of these two Ordinances indicates a strong commitment by the County of Albemarle to monitor and protect the groundwater resources of the County.  An important part of the Groundwater Ordinance is the Countyís commitment to promoting the long-term sustainability of our groundwater resources.  To accomplish this, a long-term groundwater monitoring program will be initiated, and the Board has already approved funding in this fiscal yearís budget to implement a monitoring program.  This program includes establishing County-operated long-term monitoring wells in selected locations throughout the County.




Goal 2.2:  Protect and/or preserve the Countyís natural resources.



An informal Advisory Group has been formed, composed of three individuals with expertise in environmental monitoring or hydrogeology.  This Group will convene as necessary to help guide the Groundwater Monitoring Program in both conceptual and technical aspects.  Two plans have been identified in general terms; a county-wide program and a defined-area program.  The county-wide program will provide the County with data on water table levels and provide sites for water quality samples.  The defined-area program will be a more intensely studied area and will have goals related to identifying what, if any measurable impacts land development or land use activities have on water table levels and water quality.  The Groundwater Monitoring Program is by necessity a long-term program.


Water levels will be recorded digitally by equipment housed within each borehole and collected at regular intervals by County staff.  Discussions are being held with other agencies to consider real-time monitoring of water tables, making data available to the public via the internet.  Water samples will be obtained from the wells for chemical quality tests at least annually. Staff has identified and is currently ranking several sites for the establishment of monitoring wells. It is estimated that three monitoring well sites will be in place and actively monitored before the end of the current fiscal year.   Data obtained from the monitoring wells will aid in the understanding of both water quality and quantity.


Staff and budget levels are in place at this time to implement the Groundwater Monitoring Program.



A budget for the initiation of the Groundwater Monitoring Program is in place at this time ($20,000). The monitoring program focuses on an effort to obtain permission to use existing wells, obtain easements for locating wells on private properties, and public lands/facilities.  Costs will be incurred for the construction of wells and for monitoring equipment, although these costs will be well within the allocated budget.  Once up and running, this program will be reviewed annually to determine the need for additional funding.


Grant possibilities and partnerships with State and Federal agencies are being evaluated and discussed at this time to further enhance the programís budget and scope.



This is for information only.  No action is requested from the Board of Supervisors at this time. 



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