Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:00 PM


WILCOX, Jeffrey D., Department of Environmental Studies, University of North Carolina at Asheville, One University Heights, CPO #2330, Asheville, NC 28804,

The term “groundwater sustainability” has become part of the vernacular used by planners, politicians, environmental organizations, and the general public. Unfortunately, discussions of groundwater sustainability often include the outdated notion of a “safe yield” and rely on what has been termed the “water-budget myth.” These concepts persist in practice even as they are avoided by academic hydrogeologists (and relegated to a few pages or less in the most widely-used hydrogeology textbooks).

To help close the gap between theory and practice, it is essential that hydrogeology students understand the issues surrounding groundwater sustainability and how the safe yield concept is being applied (often incorrectly). This presentation will discuss how the water-budget myth is dispelled and groundwater sustainability explained in a traditional undergraduate hydrogeology course at UNC Asheville. It will also provide specific examples from western North Carolina where 1) a municipal well ran dry during the drought of 2008, 2) newly-built homes in rural subdivisions were unable to achieve sufficient yield from the fractured bedrock aquifer, and 3) counties have proposed and passed minimum lot-size requirements such that groundwater pumping will not exceed average annual recharge.