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Aggregate Mining in Ohio – The Effects of a Quarry Dewatering Operation in Northwest Ohio

Tomastik, Thomas E.1,  Martin D. Van Oort2, and DR. E. Scott Bair2, and David A. Hodges3
1 Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management, Columbus, OH
2 The Ohio State University, Department of Geological Sciences, Columbus, OH 
3 Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management, Columbus, OH

Carbonate rocks form the primary bedrock aquifers throughout northwestern Ohio, but are also extensively quarried for building stone and aggregate. For building stone and aggregate mining to proceed, the quarry must be kept dry by pumping water out of the quarry in a process called “dewatering.” Quarry-dewatering operations have the potential to negatively affect the productivity of residential water supply wells in the surrounding area. Any time a pumping stress (such as quarry dewatering) is exerted on an aquifer, it creates an area of decreased hydraulic head surrounding the site of the pumping stress. The physical expression of this lowered hydraulic head is known as a “cone of depression.” Water wells located within the cone of depression of a quarry-dewatering operation can show evidence of decreased water supply and poor water quality, or can even go dry.

Since December 4, 2000, the Division of Mineral Resources Management (Division) has received 110 formal complaints against a quarry operation in northwestern Ohio alleging loss of water, reduced recharge, and changes in water quality in wells proximal to the quarry. The Division has received complaints as far as three miles away; however, most of the investigation activity took place within approximately 1-1/2 miles of the quarry operations.

This investigation involved the evaluation of the complex geologic setting, water level measurement of 166 private water wells, and the construction of a numerical groundwater flow model to obtain a greater understanding of the effects of quarry-dewatering operations at this site. The Division continues to work with the quarry operator to resolve the water dispute issues. To date, the quarry operator has replaced the water supplies of 33 residences impacted by their quarry-dewatering operations.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90031©2004 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Columbus, Ohio, October 3-5, 2004