July 16, 2012

Wind Energy Impacts on Groundwater Resources

If a wind energy project is proposed for a site that is within a groundwater recharge area, any contaminants released at the site have the potential to be carried downward with the infiltrating stormwater, leading to contamination of the aquifer. Groundwater discharge points occur as seepage into wetlands, lakes, and streams. If a site is proposed in a groundwater discharge area, surface disturbances (such as construction or the building of stormwater retention facilities) that disrupt the local hydrology can lead to such consequences as draining the wetland or causing stream flow to become intermittent, even if the activity does not occur directly in the wetland or surface water.

During construction blasting can have an adverse impact on water supplies. Groundwater yields (including both wells and springs) are influenced by the flow of groundwater through the aquifer materials. Any disruption to these materials can potentially affect both groundwater flow and water quality. In some cases, vibrations from blasting can cause aquifer materials to collapse and compact, thereby limiting flow. In addition, bedrock fractures may be created that draw in flow from other portions of bedrock with poorer water quality, and the use of blasting agents that contain perchlorate may result in groundwater contamination.

—Wind Energy Siting Handbook, American Wind Energy Association

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