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Statistical analysis relating well yield to construction practices and siting of wells in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge Provinces of North Carolina

Water-Supply Paper 2341-A
By C.C. Daniel, III


A statistical analysis was made of data from more than 6,200 water wells drilled in the fractured crystalline rocks of the Blue Ridge, Piedmont, and western edge of the Coastal Plain where crystalline rocks underlie sediments at shallow depths. The study area encompassed 65 counties in western North Carolina, an area of 30,544 square miles, comprising nearly two-thirds of the State. Additional water supplies will be needed in western North Carolina as population and industrial development continue to increase. Ground water is an attractive alternative to surface water sources for moderate to large supplies. The statistical analysis was made to identify the geologic, topographic, and construction factors associated with high-yield wells. It is generally held that the crystalline rocks of Blue Ridge and Piedmont provinces yield only small amounts of water to wells, that water is obtained from vertical fractures that pinch out at a depth of about 300 feet because of lithostatic pressure, and that the function of a larger diameter well is primarily for storage. These concepts are reasonable when based upon the average well drilled in these rocks: a domestic well, 125 feet deep, 6 inches or less in diameter, and located on a hill or ridge. However, statistical analysis shows that wells in draws or valleys have average yields three times those of wells on hills and ridges. Wells in the most productive hydrogeologic units have average yields twice those of wells in the least productive units. Wells in draws and valleys in the most productive units average five times more yield than wells on hills and ridges in the least productive units. Well diameter can have significant influence on yield; for a given depth, yield is directly proportional to well diameter. Maximum well yields are obtained from much greater depths than previously believed. For example, the average yield of 6-inch diameter wells located in draws and valleys can be expected to reach a maximum of about 45 gallons per minute at depths of 500 to 525 feet; for similarly located 12-inch diameter wells, the average yield can be expected to reach a maximum of about 150 gallons per min at depths of 700 to 800 feet.


Daniel, C.C., III, Smith, D.G., and Eimers, J.L., 1989, Statistical analysis relating well yield to construction practices and siting of wells in the Piedmont and Blue Ridge provinces of North Carolina, in Ground-water resources of the Piedmont-Blue Ridge Provinces of North Carolina: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Paper 2341-A, 27 p.

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(919) 571-4000
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