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Hydrogeologic Evaluation of High-Yield Well Potential in the Eastern Kentucky Coal Field

Contact: DINGER, Jim

In much of eastern Kentucky, municipal sources of water are limited and there are no underground mines to supply water. In these areas, KGS is using geologic and remote-sensing technologies to identify areas that could yield large amounts of ground water. Eastern Kentucky wells producing significant amounts of water (more than 30 gallons per minute) are usually near fractures or faults, which may be expressed as linear features on aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and topographic maps. KGS is examining satellite imagery and low-altitude radar to locate linear features, and has developed an inclined-drilling technique to identify subsurface fractures and locate water wells at sites identified from this imagery.

KGS has drilled water wells at eight sites in eastern Kentucky, predominantly in the Kentucky River Basin. Four sites were in Breathitt County and one site each was in Carter, Clay, Knott, and Letcher Counties. Inclined drilling was used at six of these sites. Five of the sites have have wells that yield more water than 95 percent of all wells drilled in their respective counties, according to the Kentucky Groundwater Data Repository in 1999. Four sites have wells that yield more than 95 percent of all wells recorded for the entire Eastern Kentucky Coal Field; these wells were located using the inclined-drilling technique.

During 2001, KGS conducted a 30-day aquifer test of the Knott County well. This test determined the well's long-term stability, because the county wants to use the it to supply water to the area residents. Work also continued on a KGS publication summarizing the use of the inclined-drilling technique. In addition, two presentations were given at the Fractured-Rock Aquifers 2002 Conference in Denver, Colo., sponsored by the National Ground Water Association.