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The Relationship between Artesian Groundwater Springs and Ecology of Coastal Rivers in Georgia

PI: James S. Reichard (Georgia Southern Univ.)

Support: GA DNR Coastal Zone Management (through a Coastal Incentive Grant)

Timeframe: 2004 - 2006 (ongoing)

Project Objective:

  • To test the hypothesis that springs from artesian aquifers are present in Georgia's coastal rivers

Progress and Findings:

The hypothesis was tested at two scour pools located on the Ogeechee and Canoochee rivers where fisheries biologists find sturgeon congregating during periods of higher temperature and salinity.  It is believed sturgeon migrate here because artesian spring flow provides a zone of lower temperature and salinity. 

  • Physical parameters and general chemistry were determined for 498 discrete water samples collected from the river beds. 
  • Data were collected over 17 sampling dates and were analyzed using a geographic information system. 

There appears to be strong evidence for an artesian spring at the scour pool on the Ogeechee; whereas patterns observed at the Canoochee pool can be explained by either a spring or tidal effects.

The next project phase will involve testing the spring hypothesis at another scour pool, located on the Altamaha River, where sturgeon also congregate. Additional data will also be gathered on the Canoochee during this period. 

Publications and Presentations:
Preliminary results were presented at the national conference of the Geological Society of America on October 20, 2005 [external link to abstract], and most recently at the Ogeechee River Shortnose Sturgeon Recovery Working Group (ORSSWG) meeting in Savannah on March 30, 2006.

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This page was updated October 13, 2006