Delawareâs Inland Bays in southeastern Sussex County are valuable natural resources that have been experiencing environmental degradation since the late 1960s. Stresses on the water resource include land use practices, modifications of surface drainage, ground-water pumping, and wastewater disposal. One of the primary environmental problems in the Inland Bays is nutrient over-enrichment. Nitrogen and phosphorous loads are delivered to the bays by ground water, surface water, and air. Nitrogen loading from ground-water discharge is one of the most difficult to quantify; therefore, locating these discharge areas is a critical step toward mitigating this load to the bays. Landsat 7 imagery was used to identify ground-water discharge areas in Indian River and Rehoboth and Indian River bays in Sussex County, Delaware. Panchromatic, near-infrared, and thermal bands were used to identify ice patterns and temperature differences in the surface water, which are indicative of ground-water discharge. Defining a shoreline specific to each image was critical in order to eliminate areas of the bays that were not representative of open water. Atmospheric correction was not necessary due to low humidity conditions during image acquisition. Ground-water discharge locations were identified on the north shore of Rehoboth Bay (west of the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal), Herring and Guinea creeks, the north shore of Indian River, and the north shore of Indian River Bay near Oak Orchard.
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