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Published 6:46pm Monday, March 5, 2012

In light of Martin Marietta Material’s plan to build and operate a quarry in southern Beaufort County, anyone interested in learning about how that quarry could affect the Castle Hayne Aquifer, the prominent underground water source for many eastern North Carolina counties, should attend a program at the North Carolina Estuarium on Wednesday.

The program, which begins at 1 p.m. and costs $2 a person, features a presentation by Richard Spruill, a respected hydrogeologist at East Carolina University. Spruill is an expert on the hydrogeology aspects of the region. Nearly 25 years ago, it was Spruill, among others, who provided the Washington Daily News valuable information that resulted in its award-winning series about the city’s contaminated water supply and the city’s efforts to find another water source other than Tranter’s Creek.

Many area residents have questions about the proposed quarry mine, and no doubt Spruill will do his best to answer the questions. Spruill also is expected to discuss the characteristics and natural functions of the Castle Hayne Aquifer and how it is affected by various activities and events in the area, including industrial activities and population growth in the region.

Spruill teamed with others to produce two publications, one about hydrogeology and groundwater management activities at the PotashCorp facilities near Aurora and the other about groundwater flow simulation management for a regulated aquifer system.

Currently, Spruill and some of his graduate students are developing a wellhead protection plan for Washington’s well field.

With water important to our lives in more than one way, Spruill’s comments during the program should prove valuable in light of past, current and future uses of the Castle Hayne Aquifer. A better-informed public should be able to make the best choices possible when it comes to using and protecting a water source.

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