An “aquifer” is defined by the American Geological Institute’s Dictionary of Geological Terms as “A body of rock that is sufficiently permeable to conduct ground water and to yield economically significant quantities of water to wells and springs”.
Aquifer characterization typically includes assessment and tests to evaluate the permeability of the aquifer and its ability to yield an “economically significant” (read “worth trying to utilize”) quantity of water. Pumping tests are typically conducted to evaluate aquifer numerical permeability and conductivity values and to evaluate potential well yield.
Other factors may be pertinent to a potential, long-term groundwater withdrawal, such as:
- Dimensions of the aquifer (areal extent and saturated thickness)
- Location of a proposed groundwater withdrawal well with respect to aquifer boundaries or to potentially-competing, existing groundwater withdrawals.
- Location and nature of potential pollution sources.
- Other land use considerations that may affect the long-term quality and quantity of water withdrawn from an aquifer.