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USGS Groundwater Projects

Click on the name of a project below to learn more about that project.


Assateague Island has been identified as being at risk from the effects of global climate change. Accelerated sea level rise, storms, rising temperatures, and changes in patterns of precipitation are all expected to drive significant change in the quality and quantity of groundwater resources, threatening sensitive ecological habitat. USGS plans to establish a groundwater well monitoring network, document baseline conditions of fresh groundwater resources, and develop a model to simulate groundwater conditions under possible future sea level change.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Climate Change Impacts on Groundwater on Assateague Island

Observation wells on Assateague Island
Observation wells on Assateague Island



The Town of Ocean City, Maryland derives its municipal water supply from several aquifers in the Maryland Coastal Plain. Due to its location on a barrier beach island, the Town has few practical alternatives for a water-supply source.

The primary objective of this study is to document the long-term water-level, chloride, and pumpage data in the coastal aquifer system.

For more information, visit the project webpage:
Groundwater Levels and Aquifer Salinity Monitoring in Ocean City, MD

Map of  groundwater monitoring locations
Map of groundwater monitoring locations



Farm Creek Marsh, located in Dorchester County, MD, was once considered prime habitat for the Virginia Rail (Rallus limicola) and the Saltmarsh Sparrow (Ammodramus caudacutus). However, in the past few years, the habitat has deteriorated due to what appears to be increased frequency, duration, and magnitude of inundation.

Concerned with restoring the habitat of the Virginia Rail and Saltmarsh Sparrow, Audubon Maryland-DC would like to create an engineered solution to decrease the amount of inundation at the site.

For more information, visit the project webpage:
Farm Creek Marsh Groundwater Study

Location map of Farm Creek Marsh
Location map of Farm Creek Marsh



Small Watershed Studies

Purpose and scope: Investigate small watersheds in the Andover, Bucks Branch, and Chester Showcase watersheds designed to document the effects of agriculture conservation practices (i.e., irrigation, manure application) on the hydrology and shallow groundwater. The research includes a groundwater flow path study, surface water synoptic sampling, and continuous and discrete sampling.

For more information, visit the project webpages for each location:
Andover Branch and Bucks Branch

Diagram showing transport pathway of nutrients into and out of the watershed.
Diagram showing transport pathway of nutrients into and out of the watershed.



Studies in the Delmarva Peninsula have demonstrated that groundwater in shallow unconfined aquifers near agricultural lands is susceptible to contamination from chemicals applied at the land surface.

Observed concentrations of nitrate in shallow groundwater commonly exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level of 10 mg/L on the peninsula. Groundwater discharge on the peninsula is a major source of nitrate in streams and coastal waters, contributing to the nutrient loads to Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the Delaware Inland Bays.

Results of nitrate analysis from this study are intended to provide a baseline data set which could be used to observe trends in nitrate concentrations.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Delaware Agricultural Shallow Groundwater Monitoring Network

Delaware Agricultural Shallow Groundwater Monitoring Network
Delaware Agricultural Shallow Groundwater Monitoring Network



Chlorobenzene compounds from several spills at a former chemical facility have contaminated soil, sediment, and groundwater and have persisted for several decades.

USGS is assisting EPA in understanding the local groundwater flow system, with emphasis on understanding the semi-confined Potomac aquifer, a regionally important source for drinking water supply.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Potomac Aquifer Study at Standard Chlorine of Delaware

Seismic measurements were made using an array of geophones trailed behind an SUV in order to image shallow (less than 60 feet) coastal plain sediments to determine the depth of confining clay layers that may limit vertical movement of groundwater.
Seismic measurements image shallow coastal plain sediments to determine the depth of confining clay layers that may limit the vertical movement of groundwater.



USGS has been assisting with long-term monitoring of hydrologic conditions in the vicinity of a former large-scale underground mining operation.

Current efforts are focused on assessing physical and chemical water conditions related to mine flooding and re-saturation of overlying strata and quality of groundwater discharged to nearby streams.

For more information, visit the project webpage: Hydrologic Data Collection at Mettiki Coal Mine, Garrett County, Maryland

Mettiki coal processing plant.
Mettiki coal processing plant



The purpose of this project is to improve the understanding of the hydrogeologic framework, groundwater flow system, and water quality in the Anacostia River watershed in the District of Columbia.

The USGS has established a groundwater level and water-quality observation network, and is developing a ground water flow model, which the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) can use to help manage water resources in Washington D.C.

Project Webpage: Hydrogeology and Groundwater Quality of the Anacostia River Watershed

Publications:

The Anacostia River near Washington, DC.
The Anacostia River near Washington, DC.

USGS Publication: Pesticides in Groundwater in the Anacostia River and Rock Creek Watersheds in Washington, D.C., 2005 and 2008
USGS Publication: Summary of Ground-Water-Quality Data in the Anacostia River Watershed, Washington, D.C., September  December 2005
USGS Publication: Summary of Water- and Sediment-Quality Data for Anacostia River Well Sites Sampled in July-August 2002


Water Use Compilation for Maryland

Every 5 years, the USGS does a National water use compilation using standard techniques. In Maryland, water use data has been collected since 1980, with the 2010 compilation being the latest edition. Water use data is separated by surface water and groundwater, fresh and saline, and by category: Public Supply, Domestic, Commercial, Industrial, Irrigation, Aquaculture, Livestock, Mining, and Thermoelectric.

The Prettyboy Reservoir helps provide water for nearly 2 million residents in Baltimore City and parts of five neighboring Maryland Counties.
The Prettyboy Reservoir helps provide water for nearly 2 million residents in Baltimore City and parts of five neighboring Maryland Counties.



The Maryland Coastal Plain region relies on groundwater for its water supply. Decades of increasing withdrawals have caused groundwater levels in confined aquifers to decline. These declines could signal that there are limits to the long-term sustainability of groundwater resources in Maryland's heavily populated Coastal Plain communities, and the agricultural industry of the Eastern Shore. This project is working to develop data and analysis tools to better understand aquifer characteristics. One tool being developed is a regional groundwater flow model that will help quantify water availability and describe patterns in groundwater quality associated with these aquifers.

Layered Miocene sediments at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland.
Layered Miocene sediments at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland.



Fractured Rock Water Supply Study

Residents in the fractured rock region of Maryland use bedrock aquifers and surface water for water supplies. This project is (a) developing tools for improved management and investigation of groundwater and surface-water resources; (b) investigating potential impacts of groundwater and surface-water withdrawals; (c) assessing the role of streamflow water withdrawals on the ecological integrity of Maryland's streams; and (d) improving the understanding of the distribution of water-quality conditions in fractured rock aquifers.

Project Webpage: Comprehensive Assessment of Water Supply in Maryland

Areas of Maryland underlain by fractured rock.
Areas of Maryland underlain by fractured rock.




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