County Wide Ground-Water Study: New York
A groundwater resources inventory and planning study completed for the Orange County Water Authority (OCWA) is the largest in scope to date in the State of New York and one of the most comprehensive ground-water planning studies in the United States.
The Leggette, Brashears & Graham, Inc. (LBG) study involved gathering existing groundwater information, an inventory of existing and proposed groundwater supplies, estimates of present and future water demands to the year 2020 and an inventory of existing and potential groundwater contamination sites. Data from the study will enable local and county planners to set development guidelines to safeguard existing groundwater supplies and protect favorable undeveloped areas for future development of groundwater supplies. The study is presently being used to develop a county-wide wellhead and aquifer protection program.
Based on collected data, LBG concluded that groundwater is a feasible and favorable alternative for additional water-supply development for the foreseeable future in Orange County. It was determined that the development of existing and new groundwater supplies county-wide will be sufficient to meet the county’s water demands for at least the next 25 years. The development of diverse groundwater sources will allow the gradual expansion of local public supplies near centers of population growth.
Aside from providing updated groundwater resource information county-wide, LBG mapped 13 layers of information created in AutoCAD files. At the inception of the study, the county determined that the information gathered would become the basis of a comprehensive Geographic Information System (GIS) to be used by a number of county agencies and departments for planning purposes. With this in mind, the OCWA met with other county agencies including planning, health, taxation and emergency management to identify present and future mapping information required and incorporated these additional mapping layers.
The groundwater mapping layers are already being coordinated with the county Emergency 911 system through the development of road maps, buildings, streams and parcel boundaries. The Orange County Planning Board will be able to use the GIS to revise the county comprehensive plan.
In another application, the GIS will enable the Orange County Partnership, which is marketing the county to prospective businesses to identify parcels of land that fit the criteria of businesses interested in locating to Orange County. Results of the ground-water study have this become a powerful tool in the county’s overall economic development strategy.