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Some Water-Related Facts

North Georgia was extensively mined over the past two centuries, and chances are that you are located either above or near (within 25 miles of) a closed mine. In some cases the shafts from these mines have filled with water which will suspend and dissolve anything that was once left in those mines. In addition, some of those mines (and old wells) have been used as dump sites for various substances including chemicals toxic to humans. The United States Geological Survey identifies two aquifers (underground sources of water) in this area of Georgia. The deeper of the two, called the Blue Ridge Crystalline Rock Aquifer has a relatively low yield of water in most places except at fractures. This aquifer does not usually provide enough water to support a city. Dahlonega, for example, uses this aquifer but must supplement its water from surface supplies. The second, more shallow and more commonly used aquifer is called a "surficial aquifer". This is the one used by most bored wells (and drilled wells without complete depth casings). Water (and all the contaminants contained in that water) moves freely through this system, both vertically and laterally. This means that there can be surface contamination or buried contamination intruding on any nearby water supply. Here nearby can mean hundreds of yards to many miles. You may be up hill from a site where contaminants are located, but your water source may actually be "downstream" from the contamination, and may therefore be tainted.

Another interesting factoid, is that gold mining (which was conducted extensively in this area) involved the use of the very toxic heavy metal mercury. Significant amounts of mercury have been found at several sites in local streams. Nitrite has been linked to cancer and is formed from Ammonia and Nitrate which have been used regularly as fertilizers, and arsenic was used here for hundreds of years as a pesticide. Studies indicate that it has accumulated in the soil in several areas. Land application of sewage sludge is now coming into more common use (Cornelia) and animal waste application to land surfaces as fertilizer has been done for hundreds of years. Recent research indicates that antibiotics and hormones are appearing in our water supplies as well. Silviculture in this area involves chemical (and mechanical) preparation of the soil and includes the use of herbicides and pesticides, as do many of the agricultural activities here.

This does NOT mean that all our water is contaminated. All it suggests, is that it is prudent to test the well and surface water we are drinking, as recommended by the EPA, at least once a year. Since public water system do NOT test for all these possible contaminants, nor many others, even those using public water may want to have their water checked.

From the EPA:

Terms used and links to Underground Injection Control Program 

 National Primary Drinking Water Information and Regulations 

Information on Cesspools:

More information coming soon -- Meanwhile check out this EPA site


Remember We work for you. Not the government or a company selling filters or water. For help, Call AWSA at 1-866-626-1716 or go to


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Last modified by Dr. Eberhard Essich 03/22/17