Freshwater wells in Hilton Head could soon be extinct - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Freshwater wells in Hilton Head could soon be extinct

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) -

Freshwater wells in parts of Hilton Head will soon be extinct.

Officials say saltwater has invaded seven of its wells in the last 15 years, and they expect to lose the remaining five wells in the next 10 years.

On an average day in Hilton Head, folks use anywhere from six to 10 million gallons of water. Soon, none of that water will be coming from the town’s underground freshwater wells.

“Saltwater is coming into that fresh water aquifer. For the utility, as those wells go salty, we take them offline for public drinking water purposes. They no longer meet the standard,” said General Manager Pete Nardi, Hilton Head Public Service District.

Even though the saltwater intrusion will eventually work its way throughout the entire island, Nardi said there’s no need to worry.   

“In 2009, we launched a reverse osmosis plant that now gives us four million gallons of water a day. In 2011, we built the island’s first aquifer storage and recovery well,” said Nardi.

The osmosis treatment allows utilities to treat murky water hundreds of feet underground, so that it is drinking water standard. And they also buy water and store it in the recovery well until the island’s high peak water usage months.

“We’re in really good shape, and a lot of it is the result of all the planning and the projects that were done leading up to today,” said Nardi.

Nardi said plans to expand the water treatment facilities are in the works.

Officials with the Hilton Head Public Service District said residents and visitors should still be mindful of water efficiency on the island.  

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