Groundwater and the Chesapeake Bay

Release Date:

Chesapeake Quarterly — Volume 19, Number 1 — June 2020

"When raindrops fall, where do they go?

Some fall directly into streams, rivers, and the Chesapeake Bay. Some slide down roofs and driveways and flow into storm drains, which often release this runoff, and all it carries, into nearby bodies of water. And some will hit the ground and sink in, where they may be drawn up by the roots of plants or sink deeper to collect in underground reservoirs, called aquifers.

A raindrop that enters the ground in Frederick, Maryland, could make its way through limestone and quartz formations. In Western Maryland, it could travel through shale and steep gorges. On the Eastern Shore, the drop could work its way quickly through sandy, permeable soils and into the underground basins. While raindrops may look alike as they fall from the sky, each has a different impact under the ground. And wherever they fall, raindrops may refill, or recharge, aquifers. 

“Once it’s in there, the problem is you really can’t get it out…Eventually all groundwater wants to, and will come back to, a stream—along with the pollutants it carries.” —Scott Phillips, U.S. Geological Survey. . ."

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