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.
Scientists study flow of groundwater into bays. Results may help track pollution.
On a small, homemade barge, built from the skeleton of an old ship, a gray slurry of bay bottom sand flows out of a pipe into a bucket. Two scientists, a well driller and two student interns drill a hole in the floor of the Indian River Bay. They’ll install a very long pipe into the hole and use it to monitor groundwater – how much flows into the bay, how salty it is and how many nutrients it carries with it.
The DGS, in response to the needs for efficient storage, manipulation,retrieval, and report-generating capability, has proceeded with the conversion of the paper file data base to an integrated automated geologic, hydrologic, and mineral resource management information system. It is necessary to organize data in a systematic and standardized fashion for efficient entry into the automated system. To accomplish this, the DGS has made major revisions in the data recording and filing systems.
Eutrophication is one of the most common and most severe problems facing coastal bays in
populated and agricultural areas. Unnaturally high quantities of nutrients enter fresh groundwater and surface water as a result of human activities. These nutrients contribute to the overpopulation of phytoplankton and macroalgae in coastal surface waters, which results in deterioration of water quality and animal habitat. This is a particular problem in the Delmarva region, where poultry farms, agricultural activity, and growing human populations have contributed to rapidly declining populations of blue crabs, striped bass, and many other species which live and breed in estuarine waters. The economic value of these species has, in part, prompted political action and efforts to manage nutrient inputs to groundwater and surface water, the primary pathways for nutrient loading to coastal waters. Despite significant reductions, coastal water quality has largely remained poor. A better understanding of the processes that moderate nutrient loading to coastal waters, particularly via groundwater, which is much more difficult to monitor than surface water inputs, is essential for improved management methods that will result in healthy coastal ecosystems. This project will improve understanding of where nutrients are coming from and how loading may be reduced, and may aid in identification of activities that exacerbate negative impacts.
The final DGS report on this project has been released and is available at:
Scott Andres and Edward Walther, of the Delaware Geological Survey, presented "Development and Application of a GIS Screening Tool for Assessing Suitability of Land for Rapid Infiltration Basin Systems" at the National Ground Water Association Summit, Denver, April 12-15. Andres also participated in a panel discussion co-sponsored by the U.S. Subcommittee on Groundwater, "National Groundwater Monitoring Network: Listening Session."