Groundwater and Saline Water Intrusion Monitoring Network Infrastructure Improvements: Kent County, Delaware

Project Status
DGS has begun a three year project to install new water monitoring infrastructure and collect baseline data in Kent County, Delaware. Recommended by the Water Supply Coordinating Council in 2015, the project was funded by a fiscal year 2017 State of Delaware Capital Appropriation.

Expansion of water monitoring infrastructure in Kent County was deemed critical because infrastructure was sparse and because population, economic and environmental conditions, and agricultural practices (irrigation) have changed how we use water since regional studies were completed in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition, we now have a more detailed understanding of aquifers and confining beds and

vastly improved computer methods to simulate, analyze, and predict the availability of groundwater and the impacts of increased groundwater use. Project work has created a monitoring well network and collected data suitable for assessing a variety of water resources issues and capable of supporting the use of these computer methods for the major water supply aquifers in Kent County. In recognition of the close

links between groundwater and surface water and the potential for wells to become contaminated by saline streams, water-monitoring infrastructure has been operated in both wells and streams. This joint monitoring approach is important because of the linkage between sea-level rise and landward migration of saltwater.

Data from water level and salinity monitoring, and hydraulic and water quality testing are continuing to be collected and analyzed. Results of this work have also attracted additional research funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and prompted the Governor’s Water Supply Coordinating Council to form a Kent County working group that is discussing responses to rapidly declining water levels in the Piney Point aquifer and elevated risks of salinity intrusion and dewatering of the Columbia aquifer in the East Dover area.

The project is being conducted in cooperation with the Water Supply Section of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). NSF funding has brought together DGS and UD researchers with local stakeholders to research and develop solutions to Dover water issues.  Our partners at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) are providing stream-gaging services.

Recommended by the Delaware Water Supply Coordinating Council in 2015, the project was funded by the FY2017 DNREC Bond Bill appropriation.  To date, more than 8,200 linear feet of monitoring wells have been installed at 13 sites.  The first report from this project has been released as DGS Open File Report 53.  We anticipate that the second report from this project will be released as a DGS Report of Investigations in the first quarter of 2021.


updated January 2021