John Talley joined the Delaware Geological Survey (DGS) as a project geologist in 1972, became a senior scientist and hydrogeologist by 1986, and rose to director and state geologist by 2004. He’s consulted with dozens of university, state, and federal governments and groups and amassed a list of more than 50 publications and reports.
On Thursday, June 9 — as members of the university community gathered to bid Talley a happy retirement — it became clear that as he built that impressive resume, he also gained the respect of those around him.
“John’s leadership and his incredible record of making connections with state and local governments, nonprofits, and other groups have made a lasting impact on DGS and its mission,” said Nancy Targett, dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, the administrative home of DGS.
DGS is a science-based, public service-driven agency whose mission is to provide objective earth science information. It’s that service to Delawareans that kept Talley motivated throughout his 38-year career with the organization.
“It has been extremely gratifying for me,” he said, “to see the results of applied research conducted by the DGS used every day by our stakeholders to support such things as provision of water resources, economic development, agriculture, public health, land-use planning, emergency management, environmental protection, and education.”
Talley’s own work focused on hydrogeology — looking at the occurrence, availability, quantity, and quality of water in aquifers used for water supply throughout Delaware. He’s helped many towns throughout the state and country develop and protect their water supplies. He’s also extensively supported the state’s emergency management agency by providing real-time analysis and information during major storm events.
“What DGS is losing when John retires is a detailed knowledge of the geology and water resources of the state of Delaware that will never be replaced,” explained Dan Leathers, CEOE deputy dean and professor of geography.
Talley’s institutional knowledge will be a loss as well. When he began working at DGS there were seven employees who focused on general geologic and hydrologic research. Today there are 16 employees working on more specific issues, including those related to the identification and protection of groundwater resources, wastewater disposal, information dissemination, and hazard warning systems.
“One of the most important and significant changes at the DGS during the past ten years has been the development and enhancement of our ability to organize and disseminate data of value to our stakeholders through the DGS website,” Talley added.
When Talley officially steps down this month, DGS Senior Scientist Peter McLaughlin will serve as interim director until a replacement is hired.
“I am excited about the future of the DGS,” Talley said. “With the talented, creative, and motivated staff that we have, there’s no doubt in my mind that the DGS is going to continue to provide the essential services that our stakeholders need related to geology, hydrology, natural hazards, the state geospatial framework, and information dissemination.”