The DGS has begun a multi-year project to install new groundwater monitoring infrastructure and collect baseline data in Sussex County, Delaware. This project is a continuation of a larger effort to construct a statewide groundwater monitoring network. It follows on from two earlier projects that expanded the monitoring network: Kent County project between 2017 and 2021 and southern New Castle County and northern Kent County project between 2013 and 2014.
While population is growing in all of Delaware’s Counties, Sussex County is undergoing significant population growth (25.2% from 2010-2021), resulting in increased water demands for drinking water supplies, industry, and irrigation. Sussex County is the birthplace of the broiler chicken industry, and the central and western areas of the county have been stressed both in terms of water supplies, as well as wastewater management, including animal waste slurries. The population centers in Sussex County are mainly located along the Atlantic coast, where seasonal water usage stresses the local aquifers that are the principal sources of drinking water. As a result, over pumping in coastal areas may cause saline water intrusion into fresh water supplies, which will be exacerbated by rising sea level and salt-water flooding in areas in proximity to tidal water bodies during coastal storms. A comprehensive monitoring network is crucial to tackle pressing concerns and ensure the sustainable use of our groundwater resources.
Funded by a FY2024 State of Delaware Capital Appropriation, the Sussex County groundwater monitoring network expansion project will add 12 new monitoring sites that will host well nests (multiple wells at each site, each designated to monitor a specific aquifer) across Sussex County. We expect to install a total of 49 monitoring wells. Following well installation, we will begin collecting hydrologic, water quality, and hydraulic information that addresses near-term (10-year) critical water resource management issues.