Briarcliffe Acres Water Level Monitoring

Datasets: Briarcliffe Acres Groundwater and Lake Level Monitoring

Project Description

A groundwater and lake level monitoring program was initiated in May 2012 to enable the community of Briarcliffe Acres to locally manage their water resources. The major water resource of concern is a series of networked lakes that are used for stormwater retention and as a source of irrigation water. Groundwater is also being used as a source of irrigation water. Extended drought conditions have led to lowered lake levels. To learn how to better maintain suitable lake levels, a monitoring program was instituted to document the relationship between groundwater and lake water levels.

Project Partners                                   

The Briarcliffe Acres Groundwater and Lake Level Monitoring Program is jointly funded by the town of Briarcliffe Acres and by Horry County's stormwater department. The scientific work and data delivery is being conducted by the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetlands Studies under the supervision of Drs. S. Libes and R. Peterson. Field work is performed by undergraduate science majors.

Project Design

The program design provides for continuous observation of groundwater and lake levels using Onset Hobo™ water level loggers. The water level measurements are collected every 15 minutes and are corrected for temperature and barometric pressure. Rainfall data are acquired continuously by a YSI Econet weather station located at the nearby Apache Pier Family Campground. Specific conductivity is measured every 15 minutes in Middle Lake. Water levels are presented relative to a selection of vertical datums and as depth below the land surface:

  • Mean Sea Level (MSL)
  • Mean Tide Level (MTL)
  • Mean Low Water (MLW)
  • North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88)

Site deployment details are shown in the following table.

Site Name
Site Type
Well Depth (ft)
Water Level &

Conductivity &


Myrtle Lane Well 11.3 X    
Lake Drive Well 14.9 X   X
Ocean View Well 5.4 X    
North Lake Lake NA X X  
Middle Lake Lake NA X    


Project Reports

Libes, S., R. Peterson and B. Thepaut. 2013. Briarcliffe Acres: Groundwater and Lake Level Monitoring Program Report on Year 1. Submitted to Town of Briarcliffe Acres, South Carolina

Project Presentations

Thepaut, B., S. Libes, and R. Peterson (2013) Briarcliffe Acres Groundwater Monitoring Program Report, Briarcliffe Acres Town Council, January 22, 2013, Briarcliffe Acres, South Carolina (oral)

Thepaut, B., S. Libes, R. Peterson, N. Edelman, and T. Garigen (2013) Community-based Groundwater and Lake Level Management in Briarcliffe Acres, SC, SC Environmental Conference, held in Myrtle Beach, SC on March 10-12, 2013. (poster)

Macy Cunningham, Delanie Sage, Susan Libes, Rick Peterson, Nancy Edelman, and Tom Garigen. 2014. Continuous Ground and Lake Water Level Monitoring in Briarcliffe Acres, SC, SC Environmental Conference held in Myrtle Beach, SC on March 9-12, 2014 (poster)


What is Groundwater?

Groundwater is the water found below the Earth's surface. The water is stored in aquifers, which are spaces in between rock layers that water can reside in. Groundwater is recharged when rain water hits the Earth's surface and seeps through the ground and into the aquifers. The water is naturally filtered as it descends belowground.

What is Barometric Pressure?

Barometric (Air) Pressure is the weight of air over a given area. Warm air is generally lighter (less dense) as compared to cold air. Air masses move across the United States, generally from the west to the east. A high-pressure air mass (1000mb) will result in clear weather, and a low-pressure air mass (900mb) will be associated with cloudy and rainy conditions.

A YSI ECONET Weather station is located at Apache Pier Family Campground. It is maintained by Coastal Carolina University's Environmental Quality Lab. Other data being collected at this site includes ocean water temperature, oxygen, salinity, pH, turbidity, and chlorophyll. To view the weather and water quality data, visit:

What is Specific Conductivity?

Specific conductivity is a measure of the amount of dissolved solids, mostly salts, as referenced to 25 C. The conductivity sensor detects the amount of electricity that is conducted by dissolved salts. The larger the concentration of ions, the greater the amount of electricity conducted and hence conductivity of the water. Since conductivity depends on temperature, values are compared by referencing all measurements to 25 C. These are values are referred to as specific conductivities. Ocean water has very high specific conductivity, on the order of 52,000 μS/cm, whereas freshwater in Middle Lake at Briarcliffe has an average conductivity of 400 μS/cm.

What is a Vertical Datum?

According to NOAA at, “A vertical datum is technically, a surface of zero elevation to which heights of various points are referred in order that those heights be in a consistent system. More broadly, a vertical datum is the entire system of the zero elevation surface and methods of determining heights relative to that surface. Over the years, many different types of vertical datums have been used. The most dominant types today are tidal datums and geodetic datums.

Tidal datums are determined by averaging the level of water at a tide gauge over time. Some simple examples of these are Mean Sea Level (MSL), Mean Low Water (MLW) and Mean Higher High Water (MHHW).

Mean Sea Level (MSL) is a tidal datum which is computed by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services as part of the National Tidal Datum Epoch (NTDE) based on data collected over a 19-year tide cycle. It pertains to Local Mean Sea Level (LMSL) at the tide station at which it was observed and should not be confused with any other vertical datum, including LMSL at other tide stations. The current NTDE for the United States is 1983-2001.”

The North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) is a geodetic datum that is determined by determining the height differences between points in the ground known as “bench marks.”

To read more about local tidal datums, visit:,%20SC&type=Datums