Thousands of homeowners in Delaware currently rely on individual wells and water systems to provide water. In addition, hundreds of new wells and systems are constructed each year to provide water for those not served by public water systems. Methods used to construct water wells in Delaware are discussed in DGS Information Series No. 2 (Domestic Water Well
Construction). Domestic water systems are described herein.
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 40" to 44" 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"/year), and the amount that runs overland to surface streams during storms (about 4"-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 ground-water reservoirs, or aquifers, that underlie most of the State. Not only do these ground-water reservoirs provide water to wells but they also maintain the flow in surface streams during times of no rainfall. Streamflow between rainfall events is nothing more than the discharge of
excess ground water.
The storage and movement of ground water depends on the types of rocks and associated
interconnected spaces in which the water occurs. The Piedmont Province in northernmost
Delaware is underlain by crystalline rocks. Because of the massiveness and hardness of such
rocks, they yield little or no interstitial water to wells. Water is stored in and moves through fractures, cracks, and solution cavities. The amount of water available depends on the number and size of openings, and the degree to which they are interconnected. Wells drilled in the Piedmont range from 100 to 400 feet in depth and yields are highly variable over very short distances.
In the Coastal Plain, the rest of the State, ground water is stored and transmitted in spaces between adjacent rock particles. As much as 30 percent of the rock mass may be saturated. Unconsolidated rocks are analogous to a bathtub filled with sand into which water is poured. The Coastal Plain consists of sandy water-bearing units referred to as aquifers interlayered between non-water-bearing units. Wells constructed for domestic use range in depth from 15 feet to 500 feet. Yields are generally much greater than those obtained from the crystalline rocks of the Piedmont. In general, minimum well yields of 3 to 5 gallons per minute are adequate for most domestic water supply systems.
The stream-gaging network in Delaware is a major component of many types of hydrologic investigations. To ensure that the network is adequate for meeting multiple data needs by a variety of users, it must represent the range of hydrologic conditions and land-use types found in Delaware, and include enough stations to account for hydrologic variability. This report describes the current stream-gaging network in Delaware and provides an evaluation of its representativeness for the State.
The microflora of the Bethany formation and the lower part of the Beaverdam Formation is characterized by a Quercus-Carya assemblage, very few non-arboreal pollen, and Pterocarya and Sciadopitys as exotic constituents. This assemblage has much in common with that of the Brandywine Formation of Maryland and the Eastover Formation of Virginia which are of late Miocene or early Pliocene age. The environment of deposition of the Bethany was probably deltaic, and that of the lower Beaverdam fluviatile.
RI45 Effects of Agricultural Practices and Septic-System Effluent on the Quality of Water in the Unconfined Aquifer in Parts of Eastern Sussex County, Delaware
The unconfined aquifer is a major source of water supply in eastern Sussex County, Delaware. It also is an important source of water for surface-water bodies and deeper, confined aquifers. The aquifer consists mainly of permeable sand and gravel; its shallow water table is susceptible to contamination by nitrate and other chemical constituents associated with agricultural practices and effluent from septic systems.
Water-level records from 19 observation wells in Delaware for the period January 1978 - December 1987 provide the bases for analyses of water-level fluctuations. Water levels in shallow water-table wells generally rise from November to March when recharge exceeds discharge and decline during the warm growing season from May through September. Although water levels in individual water-table wells fluctuated by as much as 11.72 feet during the 10-year period studied, the water-table system remained in a state of dynamic equilibrium and exhibited no significant changes in aquifer storage.
OFR20 Configuration of the Base and Thickness of the Unconfined Aquifer in Southeastern Sussex County, Delaware
The purpose of this study was to map the thickness and the configuration of the base of the unconfined aquifer in southeastern Sussex County, Delaware (figure 1). The unconfined aquifer provides much of the water used in this part of the State and is the first unit to be affected by pollution or waste disposal problems. Contour maps and geologic sections were prepared from available geologic, geophysical, and drillers' logs and previously published reports and maps. Six test holes (figure 1) were drilled to supplement available data. The information in this report will be useful for water-resources planning and for locating water-supply wells in the unconfined aquifer.
Numerical indicators, or indices, are widely used to measure the status of complex relationships. As such, indices have become accepted by researchers and the public in such disparate fields as economics, air quality, and weather. In this paper we explore the formulation of an indicator of water conditions in northern Delaware, propose formulas that may be applicable, and test those proposals against long-term records of basic data. The need for a simple indicator of water supply conditions in Delaware, and especially in New Castle County, has become increasingly apparent. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has applied an index to the Delaware River Basin, which includes a portion of Delaware. The Governor's Drought Advisory Committee has sought an objective means of determining when water supply conditions might warrant conservation measures. Discussions of the subject have also been held within the State Comprehensive Water Management Committee. We are pleased to acknowledge the constructive comments of these groups and of other colleagues with whom we have discussed this work. George R. Phillips of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was especially helpful in analyzing the practical implications of using the index presented in this paper. John R. Mather, Delaware State Climatologist, provided Palmer Drought Severity Index values with the cooperation of the National Weather Service. This report was reviewed by Richard N. Benson and John H. Talley of the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS).
OFR11 Effects of Earthquakes and Earth Tides on Water Levels in Selected Wells in the Piedmont of Delaware
Examination of continuous water-level hydrographs from two artesian observation wells in the Piedmont near Newark, Delaware reveals water-level fluctuations caused by earthquakes and by earth tides. The effects of 14 distant earthquakes with MS (surface wave) magnitudes between 6.7 and 8.0 and MB (body wave) magnitudes between 5.9 and 7.0 (National Earthquake Information Service, 1975-1977) have been recorded over a two-year and ten-month period.
OFR40 Summary Report: The Coastal Storms of January 27-29 and February 4-6, 1998, Delaware and Maryland
In the period between January 27 and February 6, 1998, the Mid-Atlantic region experienced two significant northeasters that affected the coast of Delaware and Maryland. These storms produced heavy rains and high winds, waves, and tides that created dune washovers, flooding, wind damage, and beach erosion and migration. Coastal communities were impacted by flooding that closed roads, by beach erosion that affected structures, streets and boardwalks, and by high winds that damaged structures and trees. This report summarizes the geologic and climatologic nature and effects of these storms and compares them with other similar storms. Post-storm geologic observations from Delaware and Maryland are given in Appendix A.
On January 4, 1992 an intense storm moved from the east across the Delmarva Peninsula and the Chesapeake Bay. Its track was the result of the low pressure being pulled westward by a strong cold-cored upper low moving across Georgia and South Carolina. The storm exhibited tropical/subtropical characteristics on radar. Satellite photos indicate that an "eye" to the storm formed just prior to landfall. Landfall occurred over the southern Delmarva Peninsula just prior to the time of high tide (0648 at Ocean City, Md). The storm weakened rapidly as it moved over land areas with a secondary area redeveloping farther out to sea later in the day on the 4th. Approximate locations of the storm's track are given on Figure 1. As the storm moved across the Delmarva Peninsula perpendicular to the coast, Delaware was in the right-foreward quadrant to the north of the "eye" of the storm. This position typically produces the highest winds associated with a tropical storm. These winds created high waves that in conjunction with an astronomical high tide (new moon) produced strong surf and abnormally high tides along the shore. Rainfall from the storm in Delaware was not heavy enough to cause flooding of streams. Coastal flooding of marshes and low-lying areas did occur along the Inland Bays and along Delaware Bay.
Heavy precipitation associated with intense thunderstorm activity occurred in northern New Castle County, Delaware, from 0500 to 1300 hours on July 5, 1989. The most intense rainfall, which fell between 0600 and 1100 hours, is classified as a 100 year event in New Castle County. Record high stream discharges occurred at five gaged sites and three miscellaneous sites. One hundred-year floods were recorded at four sites.
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.
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.
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.
B2 Geology and Ground-Water Resources of the Newark Area, Delaware with a Section on the Surface Water Resources
This report describes the geological and lithological conditions in the Newark area, and the occurrence, quantity, and quality of the available ground-water supply. Newark is located on the Fall Line, the boundary between the rolling hills of the Piedmont on the north and the gentle slopes of the Coastal Plain on the south. Because the Piedmont is underlain by dense crystalline rocks and their weathered clayey soils, which are of low water-bearing capacity in contrast to the more permeable silts and sands of the Coastal Plain, the exploration for ground water was confined to the Coastal Plain south and southeast of Newark.
Water-level records from 13 observation wells in Delaware for the period July, 1966 - December, 1977 provide the bases for the analyses of water-level fluctuations. Water levels in shallow water-table wells generally rise from November to March, when recharge exceeds discharge, and decline during the warm growing season from May through September. Although water-levels in individual wells changed by as much as 11.17 feet during the 11.5 year period studied, the water-table system remained in a state of dynamic equilibrium and exhibited no permanent changes in aquifer storage. However, the water levels in three artesian observation wells have declined during the same 11.5 year period in response to high demands for ground water while levels in the other two artesian wells have risen slightly due to a reduction in ground-water discharge, or increase in ground-water recharge, or both. Nevertheless during the past several decades, water levels have declined, cones of depression have enlarged, and reductions in aquifer storage, have occurred in the Potomac aquifer in central and southeastern New Castle County, and the Piney Point and Cheswold aquifers in the Dover-Dover Air Force Base area. Therefore, future groundwater development in the artesian aquifers must be carefully planned and managed.