Hydrogeology johncallahan Thu, 06/24/2010 - 23:53

Introduction to the Hydrogeology of Delaware

Introduction to the Hydrogeology of Delaware johncallahan Sat, 06/27/2009 - 00:19

Delaware’s water, both ground and surface, is one of its most important natural resources. It is essential for meeting the needs of all segments of our society and for maintaining economic growth and agriculture. At this time, all water used for public and domestic supply and more than 98% of water used for irrigation south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is groundwater. North of the canal, approximately 70% of public water supplies are obtained from four surface-water sources (creeks) and 30% from groundwater resources.

Because of the importance of groundwater to the State, hydrogeologic programs and studies are a major focus of DGS staff. Recent and ongoing efforts include such subjects as ambient and targeted groundwater level and quality monitoring, mapping of aquifer extents and hydraulic properties, assessing the impacts of artificial drainage and wastewater disposal practices, developing methods for remote sensing of groundwater discharge areas, and development of techniques for storage, analysis, and distribution of groundwater information by geographic information systems.

The DGS is the lead agency for collection and analysis of data on groundwater levels and stream discharges in Delaware. The importance of water conditions monitoring has been highlighted in the last several years by a series of droughts and floods. We operate and monitor a variety of systems that provide water-conditions data and capture these data in an Oracle-based hydrological data management system. Groundwater conditions are monitored by a statewide water-level monitoring network of 69 wells. In addition, in 1985 the DGS implemented a water level and chloride monitoring program for 25 wells along the Atlantic Coast to evaluate the potential for salt-water intrusion in aquifers used for public and domestic water supplies. Surface-water conditions are tracked for 15 stream-gage and 10 tide-gage stations around the state. The stream-gaging network was begun by the USGS in 1931 and is now operated cooperatively between the DGS and the USGS.

DGS staff participate in programs and projects related to surface water resources of Delaware and the Delaware River Basin. For example, the DGS coordinates these efforts for the state and facilitates acquisition of streamflow and tide-gage data for Delaware stakeholders. Staff members have also been principal investigators in multi-disciplinary, multi-agency studies to evaluate the fluxes of water, plant nutrients, and other dissolved and suspended sediments in the Inland Bays and Nanticoke River watersheds. As Delaware’s lead earth science agency, the Delaware Geological Survey provides information to inform and educate resource managers and the public to better understand and manage our water resources. The Delaware Geological Survey, by statute, manages and provides liaison for all state-federal projects related to the DGS-USGS Joint-Funded and Partnering Programs.

Data and Graphs about Water in Delaware

Primary Image

Delaware's Water Budget

Delaware's Water Budget johncallahan Thu, 07/23/2009 - 12:34

Because of its "renewability" water is unique among earth resources that sustain and enhance life. No other mineral resource that we extract on a long-term and continuous basis can be counted on for at least some degree of replenishment within a human lifetime. This attribute allows a great deal of flexibility in management of the resource. In Delaware local rainfall, approximately 44" to 46" per year, renews part or all of our water supply on a regular basis. However, not all of the rain that falls is available for use. From this total rainfall must be subtracted the water that evaporates (about 20"/year), the amount that is used by plants (about 3 to 6"/year), and the amount that runs overland to surface streams during storms (about 4 to 5"/year). The remainder, approximately 13" to 15" is Delaware's bank of water for the year. This water is stored in a system of groundwater reservoirs, or aquifers, that underlie most of the state. Not only do these groundwater reservoirs provide water to wells, but thyey also maintain the flow in surface streams during times of no rainfall. Streamflow between rainfall events is nothing more than the discharge of excess groundwater.

How much water is there?
Water Equivalents
Inches/Year Billion Gallons/Day
44 4.2
26 2.5
18 1.7
14 1.3
4 0.4

Precipitation: Condensed water vapor that falls to the Earth's surface. Most precipitation occurs as rain, but also includes snow, hail, and sleet.

Runoff: The variety of ways by which water moves across the land. This includes both surface runoff and direct runoff. As it flows, the water may seep into the ground, evaporate into the air, become stored in lakes or reservoirs, or be extracted for agricultural or other human uses.

Infiltration: The flow of water from the ground surface into the ground. Once infiltrated, the water becomes soil moisture or groundwater.

Groundwater Flow: The flow of water underground, in the vadose zone and aquifers. Subsurface water may return to the surface (e.g. as a spring or by being pumped) or eventually seep into the oceans. Water returns to the land surface at lower elevation than where it infiltrated, under the force of gravity or gravity induced pressures. Groundwater tends to move slowly, and is replenished slowly, so it can remain in aquifers for thousands of years.

Evaporation: The transformation of water from liquid to gas phases as it moves from the ground or bodies of water into the overlying atmosphere. The source of energy for evaporation is primarily solar radiation. Evaporation often implicitly includes transpiration from plants, though together they are specifically referred to as evapotranspiration.

Transpiration: The release of water vapor from plants and soil into the air.

Coastal Plain Hydrostratigraphic Chart

Coastal Plain Hydrostratigraphic Chart johncallahan Thu, 01/28/2010 - 16:32

The following table displays the correlation of hydrologic units to geologic units recognized by the Delaware Geological Survey in the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

Delaware Hydrologic Stratigraphic Chart

Effect of tropical storms Irene and Lee on groundwater levels in well Qb35-08

Effect of tropical storms Irene and Lee on groundwater levels in well Qb35-08 andres Tue, 01/10/2012 - 11:51

Groundwater levels recorded in Qb35-08, a 14-foot deep monitoring well located approximately 5 miles west of Laurel, DE show a remarkable response to tropical storms Irene and Lee, which occurred in August and September, 2011, respectively. Groundwater levels and temperatures in Qb35-08 were collected with an automated pressure-temperature datalogger system. At the same time, rainfall and soil moisture data were recorded by the DEOS Laurel Airport station located approximately 5 miles from the well. In the following illustrations daily mean groundwater levels and groundwater temperatures, total daily rainfall, and daily maximum volumetric soil water content are plotted to show how groundwater,
rainfall, and soil moisture are related.

Note the two big storms were 6.6 (Irene, August 27-28) and 3.7 (Lee, September 8) inches. In response, groundwater level (gwl) rose more than 9-1/2 feet, with the largest rise occurring after the second storm. Though a 9-1/2- foot rise in groundwater level within a few weeks’ time is remarkable, long term the gwl are within the range of previously observed gwl. The shallowest groundwater levels observed in this well, about 3 feet below land surface, are very common in this part of Delaware and a primary reason why there are very few homes with basements in the area. Daily mean groundwater temperatures do not show a noticeable affect from the storm events.

The timing and magnitude of groundwater level rise is related to the rainfall amount and the antecedent maximum daily volumetric water content (VWC) or soil moisture conditions. Prior to the first storm VWC was less than 0.1 indicating a significant soil moisture deficit. Increase of VWC to values above 20 percent (0.2) and onset of gwl rise appear to be strongly correlated with a delay of one day or less. Rates of increase in gwl slow within two days and reverse within 3-4 days after the VWC drops below 20 percent. The rapid rates of rise in VWC and gwl reflect rapid infiltration and groundwater recharge and are consistent with the sandy soil at the DEOS station and sandy aquifer material at the well site. Rapid recharge is one reason why the shallow aquifer is especially vulnerable to pollution from contaminants released at or just beneath land surface.

These data provide an example of why it is important to monitor groundwater conditions. Well Qb35-08 is operated by the Delaware Department of Agriculture as part of their Pesticide Compliance Monitoring Network (PCMN, http://dda.delaware.gov/pesticides/gwater.shtml). Construction, maintenance, and instrumentation are done in cooperation with the Delaware Geological Survey. Additional groundwater and well data can be obtained from this web site or from the PCMN web site.


The Delaware Water Conditions Summary

The Delaware Water Conditions Summary johncallahan Thu, 09/02/2010 - 12:26

The Water Conditions Summary is an online monthly summary of water conditions in Delaware. Principal factors in determining water conditions are precipitation, streamflow, and groundwater levels in aquifers. Data from rain gages, stream gages, and observation wells located throughout Delaware have been collected and compiled since the 1960s by the Delaware Geological Survey. These data are displayed as hydrographs and are also available for download. In general, water is abundant in Delaware, but supply is restricted by natural geologic conditions in some areas, by contamination in others, and is dependent on precipitation.

Delaware Geological Survey - US Geological Survey Stream and Tide Gaging Program

Delaware Geological Survey - US Geological Survey Stream and Tide Gaging Program johncallahan Tue, 06/06/2017 - 11:33
Set Cover Image?
Body Paragraph

The US Geological Survey in cooperation with the Delaware Geological Survey through a State-Federal partnership program operates and maintains stream and tide gages throughout Delaware. The streamgage network is a component of the National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP), a program that provides real-time and long-term current and historical streamflow information that is not only accurate and unbiased, but also meets the needs of many users.

Although not part of the NSIP, the tide gages also provide real-time and historical information. In 2010, we operate and maintain (24 hours a day, 365 days per year) 13 long-term, continuous-record, real-time streamgages and 2 streamgages that support specific short-term projects. The tide gage network consists of 9 long-term, real-time tide gages and 1 tide gage that supports a specific short-term project. Three streamgages and three tide gages also provide water quality information. Stream and tide gage information are available at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/de/nwis/current/?type=flow.

Stateside funding support for operation and maintenance of this partnership program is provided by the Delaware Geological Survey, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Emergency Management Agency, City of Wilmington, City of Newark, and United Water Delaware. The USGS provides match funding for the streamgage portion of the program.

The Delaware Stream and Tide Gage network provides the hydrologic and water quality information necessary to aid in defining, using, and managing Delaware’s invaluable surface and groundwater resources. The data are used for a multitude of purposes, including, but not limited to, long-range water resources planning and management, short-term resource management, evaluation of drought-no drought conditions, allocation of water resources for public, industrial, commercial, and irrigation water supplies, flood forecasting and warning, bridge and culvert design, hazard spill response and mitigation, analysis of sea level rise, recreation, and floodplain mapping. The stream and tide data are also utilized in existing real-time early warning systems related to potential flooding, and storm/coastal erosion throughout Delaware. The warning systems are used by the DGS, Delaware Emergency Management Agency, all three county emergency management offices, most municipalities, the National Weather Service, the Office of the State Climatologist, and others.

The network is directly tied into the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS) Environmental Monitoring and Observing Network, a network of approximately thirty new meteorological observation sites coupled with existing weather and other environmental observation sites in and around Delaware (http://www.deos.udel.edu).