The Delaware Geological Survey conducted a review of existing ground-water quality data collected from shallow (less than 100 feet deep) domestic water-supply wells and small public water-supply wells (serving fewer than 100 residents) to determine the extent to which toxic and carcinogenic compounds are present in the shallow ground water serving domestic water supply wells. These data were generated by several agencies including the Delaware Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Division of Public Health Office of Drinking Water, and the Delaware Department of Agriculture Pesticide Management Program.
Digital watershed and bay polygons for use in geographic information systems were created for Rehoboth Bay, Indian River, and Indian River Bay in southeastern Delaware. Polygons were created using a hierarchical classification scheme and a consistent, documented methodology that enables unambiguous calculations of watershed and bay surface areas within a geographic information system. The watershed boundaries were delineated on 1:24,000-scale topographic maps. The resultant polygons represent the entire watersheds for these water bodies, with four hierarchical levels based on surface area. Bay boundaries were delineated by adding attributes to existing polygons representing water and marsh in U.S. Geological Survey Digital Line Graphs of 1:24,000-scale topographic maps and by dissolving the boundaries between polygons with similar attributes. The hierarchy of bays incorporates three different definitions of the coastline: the boundary between open water and land, a simplified version of that boundary, and the upland-lowland boundary. The polygon layers are supplied in a geodatabase format.
OFR44 Storm-Water and Base-Flow Sampling and Analysis in the Delaware Inland Bays Preliminary Report of Findings 1998-2000
This report provides initial research results of a storm-water and base-flow sampling and analysis project conducted by the University of Delaware College of Marine Studies (CMS) and the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS). Base-flow samples were collected from six tributary watersheds of Delaware’s Inland Bays on 29 occasions from October 1998 to May 2000. Water samples were filtered in the field to separate dissolved nutrients for subsequent analysis, and a separate sample was collected and returned to the laboratory for particulate nutrient determinations. On each sampling date, temperature, conductivity, pH, and dissolved oxygen concentrations were determined at each sampling station. Stream discharge measurements at each of these sites were made by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) under a joint-funded agreement with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and the DGS. Together, the nutrient and discharge data were used to determine the total and unit (normalized to watershed area) nutrient loading from base flow to the Inland Bays from each of these watersheds on a quarterly and annual basis. At the same six stations, storm water was collected during eight storms from May 1999 to April 2000. Storm-water loadings of nutrients from each watershed were calculated from the concentrations of nutrients in water samples collected at fixed time intervals from the beginning of the storm-water discharge period until recession to base flow. These data provide DNREC with a more complete picture of the seasonal dependence of nutrient loading to the Bays from which to establish goals for total maximum daily loads in the Inland Bays watershed.
Inspection of water analyses on file at the Delaware Geological Survey revealed that 25 percent of the shallow wells yield water with nitrate concentrations approaching or in excess of the Delaware State Board of Health and U. S. Public Health Service limit of 45 parts per million (ppm). Nitrate concentrations greater than 45 ppm seem to be detrimental to the health of infants during their first few months of life; adults drinking the same water are not affected but breast-fed infants of mothers drinking such water may become ill. The illness ("blue baby sickness" or methemoglobinemia) results from the conversion of nitrate to nitrite by nitrite-forming bacteria in the upper part of the digestive tract of some infants and the further conversion of hemoglobin to methemoglobin which is incapable of transporting oxygen; the result is oxygen starvation. Little is known about the low level effect of undetected methemoglobinemia on infants.
Data from three streamflow water-quality stations were statistically analyzed to determine the relationships of the major inorganic chemical constituents to specific conductance and to stream discharge. The results show that ion concentrations varied directly with the flow and with specific conductance. A set of regression equations defining these relationships were derived for each of the three stations: Brandywine Creek at Wilmington, St. Jones River at Dover, and Nanticoke River near Bridgeville.
Distilled water spiked with heavy metal cations was passed at a rate of 2-4 ml/min through a filter composed of greensand containing about 80 percent glauconite. The capability of the greensand to trap metal cations is increased by prolonging the contact time between the leachate and the greensand. Flushing the charged greensand filter with water does not cause significant release of cations back into solution, suggesting that polluted greensand might be disposed in landfills without adding pollutants to either ground or surface water in the vicinity.
OFR35 Estimate of Nitrate Flux to Rehoboth and Indian River Bays, Delaware, through Direct Discharge of Ground Water
Agricultural fertilizer application, animal (poultry) waste, and wastewater disposal practices of the past 40 years have resulted in widespread nitrate contamination of ground water in coastal Sussex County, Delaware. Discharge of contaminated ground water to Rehoboth and Indian River bays is suspected of being a significant contributor to elevated nutrient concentrations in these surface water bodies, resulting in excessive phytoplankton growth and other related problems.
This report documents the development of a methodology for mapping ground-water recharge areas in Delaware's Coastal Plain. It is anticipated that the methodology presented herein will evolve as it is applied to other areas in the State and as computerized geographic information systems become more widely available. This report deals with methodology; the recharge area maps generated in the course of the research are available for review at the DGS.
OFR33 Ground-Water Level and Chemistry Data from the Coastal Sussex County, Delaware, Ground-Water Quality Survey
This report contains the supporting ground-water level and chemistry data and the data collection methodology for Delaware Geological Survey Report of Investigations No. 49, "Results of the Coastal Sussex County, Delaware, Ground-Water Quality Survey" (Andres, 1991). Because raw data are commonly requested, they are published here in open-file format to accommodate those needing it for further analysis.
Ground water is Delaware's most important natural resource. Our aquifers, which are present everywhere in Delaware, provide more than 75 million gallons each day for all uses. Nearly all of the water used in Delaware south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal is obtained from aquifers, both water-table and artesian. An appreciable quantity of water is also obtained from aquifers in northern New Castle County. Ground water has generally been of good quality, been used with little or no treatment, and has been readily available at low cost.
OFR28 Potential for Ground-Water Recharge in the Coastal Plain of Northern New Castle County, Delaware
This map was constructed primarily to indicate the possibilities for artificial recharge into both the surficial sediments of Quaternary age (exclusive of soils) and the older, immediately underlying sediments. However it can also be used to determine where natural recharge might be entering the ground most readily in those areas relatively free from impermeable cover. The surficial sediments include micaceous sands and gravels in the vicinity of the Fall Line derived from underlying crystalline rocks, Holocene marsh deposits, Delaware River sediments, and the Columbia Formation of Pleistocene age. The Columbia Formation is composed of poorly sorted sands with some gravels, silts and occasional clays. The unit is one of the most important ground-water reservoirs in New Castle County.
This map shows the saturated thickness of the Columbia Formation. The Columbia Formation covers most of the Coastal Plain of Delaware. Because it consists primarily of coarse sand, it is important to the hydrology of the area. It is an important groundwater reservoir and in most places water must pass through it to reach deeper units. The water budget of the Columbia Formation also influences runoff and baseflow components of streamflow. The saturated thickness was determined through interpretation of data in publications and files of the Delaware Geological Survey, United States Geological Survey, and the Water Resources Center of the University of Delaware. The thicknesses shown on the map represent the best judgment of the authors based on available data. Detailed investigations of specific sites will require additional data.
B16 Ground-Water Resources of the Piney Point and Cheswold Aquifers in Central Delaware as Determined by a Flow Model
A quasi three-dimensional model was constructed to simulate the response of the Piney Point and Cheswold aquifers underlying Kent County, Delaware to ground-water withdrawals. The model included the Magothy, Piney Point, Cheswold, and unconfined aquifers, and was calibrated using historical pumpage and water-level data. Model calibration was accomplished through the use of both steady-state and transient-state simulations.
The unconfined aquifer in central and southeastern Delaware occurs as a southward-thickening blanket of fine to coarse sand, and is recharged almost totally by precipitation and discharge is principally by seepage to streams, bays, and the ocean.
B14 Hydrology of the Columbia (Pleistocene) Deposits of Delaware: An Appraisal of a Regional Water-Table Aquifer
The Columbia (Pleistocene) deposits of Delaware form a regional water-table aquifer, which supplies about half the ground water pumped in the State. The aquifer is composed principally of sands which occur as channel fillings in northern Delaware and as a broad sheet across central and southern Delaware. The saturated thickness of the aquifer ranges from a few feet in many parts of northern Delaware to more than 180 feet in southern Delaware. Throughout 1,500 square miles of central and southern Delaware (75 percent of the State's area), the saturated thickness ranges from 25 to 180 feet and the Columbia deposits compose all or nearly all of the water-table aquifer.
Southern New Castle County has a land area of 190 square miles in north-central Delaware. It is predominantly a rural area with a population of about 9,000 people who are engaged chiefly in agriculture. By and large, the residents are dependent upon ground water as a source of potable water. This investigation was made to provide knowledge of the availability and quality of the ground-water supply to aid future development. The climate, surface features, and geology of the area are favorable for the occurrence of ground water. Temperatures are generally mild and precipitation is normally abundant and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The topography of the area is relatively flat and, hence, the streams have low gradients. The surface is underlain to a considerable depth by highly permeable unconsolidated sediments that range in age from Early Cretaceous to Recent.
The purpose of this investigation was to obtain data on and study the factors affecting the salinity of the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pa., to the Appoquinimink River, Del. The general chemical quality of water in the estuary is described, including changes in salinity in the river cross section and profile, diurnal and seasonal changes, and the effects of rainfall, sea level, and winds on salinity. Relationships are established of the concentrations of chloride and dissolved solids to specific conductance. In addition to chloride profiles and isochlor plots, time series are plotted for salinity or some quantity representing salinity, fresh-water discharge, mean river level, and mean sea level. The two major variables which appear to have the greatest effect on the salinity of the estuary are the fresh-water flow of the river and sea level. The most favorable combination of these variables for salt-water encroachment occurs from August to early October and the least favorable combination occurs between December and May.
Sussex County is in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Its relatively flat, featureless topography is characterized by two terrace-like surfaces; the lower one rises from sea level to about 40 feet above sea level, and the higher one rises inland from 40 to about 60 feet above sea level. Peculiar landforms of low relief, broad ovals, similar to the "Carolina bays," and to the "New Jersey basins" are common on the sandy flat divides in Sussex County. Hydrologically, they are sites of much ground-water discharge, by evapotranspiration, from meadow and marsh of lush vegetation.
Northern Delaware, the area above the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in New Castle County, is an area of rapidly growing population and expanding industry. In some places the demand for water has reached or exceeded the capacity of the existing facilities creating apparent water shortages. Many agencies, both public and private, are attempting to alleviate these shortages; studies are being made and reports prepared for immediate action as well as long-term planning. It is the purpose of this report to examine on a long-range basis the water resources of the northern Delaware area. This examination indicates that the surface-water and groundwater resources of the area far exceed the 72.8mgd (million gallons per day) used during 1955. The amount of ground water potentially available in the area is estimated to be at least 30 mgd and the amount of surface water potentially available depends principally on the amount of storage that may be feasible economically. Storage of 3 million gallons per square mile would provide an allowable draft rate of 140 mgd with a deficiency at average intervals of ten years, while storage of 30 million gallons per square mile would raise the allowable draft to 250 mgd, which is about half of the mean annual discharge. In addition to the fresh-water resources, saline water from the Delaware River and its tidal estuaries is available in almost unlimited quantity for cooling, fire fighting, some types of washing, and other purposes.
Delaware has an abundant supply of ground water of a quality suitable for most purposes. About 30 million gallons of water a day was pumped from the ground in 1954. It is estimated that this is roughly 1/16 of the optimum yield. This water is derived from nine groups or series of water-bearing units and is obtained from wells which yield as much as 1,100 gallons per minute. Thousands of wells serve agriculture, industry, municipalities, and domestic users. Geographically, Delaware is situated along the Atlantic coast of the United States in two physiographic provinces: the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. The Piedmont is a belt of rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. It is separated from the Coastal Plain by the Fall Line, a narrow zone of rapids or falls along which rivers and creek descend rapidly from the mature valleys of the Piedmont to the sluggish tidal estuaries of the coastal area. The Coastal Plain is a flat or gently undulating plain of relatively low altitude, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and its estuarine embayments.