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Water Levels Low in Northern Maryland

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Wendy McPherson (
Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Water Science Center
5522 Research Park Drive
Baltimore, MD 21228
FAX: (443)498-5510

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Updated: October 5 , 2001

Streamflow and Groundwater levels were approaching record lows in northern Maryland at the end of September according to hydrologists at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Baltimore, Maryland. Streamflow was below normal at Deer Creek (57% below average), Little Falls, Conococheague Creek, Monocacy River, Antietam Creek, Savage River, Wills Creek, and Casselman River. Record low Groundwater levels were set in observation wells in Carroll and Washington Counties and wells in Harford and Baltimore Counties continue to be below normal.

While these low streamflow and Groundwater levels may not yet be a serious problem, continued lack of precipitation in northern Maryland could aggravate the situation as fall progresses.

Streamflow entering the Chesapeake Bay in September averaged 57 bgd (billion gallons per day), which is 43 percent below the long-term average (see graphs at For the 2001 water year (October 2000 through September 2001), the total inflow to the Chesapeake Bay was 403 bgd (billion gallons per day), which is 25 percent less than the 2000 water year (535 bgd). The water year begins October 1 each year and is used by hydrologists because it is the time when streamflows are generally lowest across the nation. Groundwater levels and soil moisture levels are also low at this time because the replenishing rains of autumn usually have not begun.

Streamflow at the Potomac River near Washington, D.C., was 21 percent below normal for September. Storage in the Baltimore Reservoir system decreased to 81 percent of capacity in September.

Groundwater levels on the Eastern Shore and in Delaware were normal to above normal, and in the rest of Maryland and Delaware Groundwater levels decreased but remained in the normal range (see graphs at

As the Nation's largest water, earth and biological science, and civilian mapping agency, the USGS works in cooperation with more than 2,000 organizations across the country to provide reliable, impartial scientific information to resource managers, planners, and other customers. This information is gathered in every state by USGS scientists to minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters, contribute to the sound conservation and the economic and physical development of the nation's natural resources, and enhance the quality of life by monitoring water, biological, energy, and mineral resources.

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