The Art & Science of Hydrogeology

“Hydrogeologists apply scientific knowledge and mathematical principles to solve groundwater-related problems in society: problems of quantity, quality and availability. They may be concerned with finding water supplies for cities or irrigated farms, or controlling river flooding or soil erosion. Or, they may work in environmental protection: preventing or cleaning up pollution or locating sites for safe disposal of hazardous wastes.” United States Geological Survey. At HSA Golden, a Florida-based environmental engineering and waste management consulting firm, hydrogeologists, engineers, and earth scientists provide a wide range of waste management services, such as solid waste facility permitting, landfill design, construction management, landfill monitoring and final closure, and engineering for both transfer stations and recycling facilities. For American Cement Company, HSA Golden designed and performed the permitting for a $150M, 250-acre limestone mine, 50-acre Portland Type I/II cement plant site and one-mile access road on a site totaling 1,300 acres.  The Sumter County, Florida project required – among many other services – groundwater flow modeling for mining operations and to demonstrate that nearby wetlands would not be significantly impacted by mine dewatering and cement manufacturing. “This was a challenging project for us because of its size and scopet” said Peter T. Barts, P.G. a highly experience hydrogeologist and President of HSA Golden.  “However, because we have had a great deal of experience working on similar large-scale projects and always kept an open line of communication with our clients , we were able to complete the job within a year and well under the project deadline,” Barts said. The work of hydrologists (which typically work with atmospheric and surface water) and hydrogeologists (which typically work with groundwater) is particularly important in preserving environmentally fragile wetlands throughout the world. A case in point is the Florida Everglades, whose waters have been threatened by prior flood-control projects,climatological changes, agricultural impacts, as well as increasing development in response to population growth in the state. As evidenced by soil depletion, reduced water flow to Florida Bay, and nutrient overloading, poor water-management practices can  wreak havoc on some of our most fragile environments, making the balancing act for those who work to preserve the ecosystem all the more challenging.