Groundwater Availability of the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain

Science Center Objects

Background The North Atlantic Coastal Plain (NACP) covers a land area of approximately 34,000 mi 2 along the eastern seaboard of the United States from Long Island, N.Y., southward to the northern portion of North Carolina. This area is underlain by a thick wedge of sedimentary deposits that form a complex groundwater system in which the sands and gravels function as confined aquifers, and t...

Background
 

The North Atlantic Coastal Plain (NACP) covers a land area of approximately 34,000 mi 2  along the eastern seaboard of the United States from Long Island, N.Y., southward to the northern portion of North Carolina. This area is underlain by a thick wedge of sedimentary deposits that form a complex groundwater system in which the sands and gravels function as confined aquifers, and the silts and clays function as confining units. These confined aquifers of the NACP constitute a major source of water for public and domestic supply for the nearly 27 million people living in the region, as well as being important source of water for industrial and agricultural purposes.  

Increases in population and changes in land use over the past 100+ years have resulted in increased and diverse demands for fresh water. Individual State management of aquifer resources has become increasingly difficult due to hydrologic effects that extend beyond State boundaries. Therefore, understanding how groundwater flow is affected by regional changes to the hydrologic system is vital to managing and protecting the water resources of the North Atlantic Coastal Plain. 
 
Objectives and Scope
 
  The primary objectives of this investigation are to quantify current groundwater resources, evaluate how these resources have changed over time, and provide the tools needed to forecast system response to future anthropogenic and environmental stresses. Achieving these objectives will include (1) quantifying the groundwater resource from predevelopment to current conditions, (2) synthesizing in a regional context the hydrogeologic information obtained since the previous aquifer-system wide assessment of the early 1980s (Trapp and Meisler, 1992), and (3) developing numerical models that can be used to assess groundwater availability in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain.  
Additionally, this regional analysis will provide temporal information about the inflows, outflows, and changes in storage system-wide and in selected areas of the aquifer system. Results of this analysis will be used to the extent possible to forecast the hydrologic responses of the aquifer system to future anthropogenic and environmental stresses and assist in the evaluation and design of existing and new groundwater monitoring networks. 
 
Approach
 
Water availability is a function of many factors, including the quantity and quality of water and the laws, regulations, economics, and environmental factors that control its use. The focus of the North Atlantic Coastal Plain Groundwater Availability study is on improving fundamental knowledge of the water budget of this aquifer system, including the flows, storage, and use by humans and the environment. An improved quantitative understanding of the aquifer system’s water budget not only provides key information about water quantity, but also is essential for assessments of water quality and ecosystem health.  
  A synthesis of existing information will be used by the NACP project team to determine how much water enters, moves through, and discharges from the groundwater flow system and to update the hydrogeologic framework to support the development of a groundwater flow model for North Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system. This numerical model will serve as a tool to better understand how this aquifer system responses to the continuing and growing demands on the groundwater resources in this region.
 
References
 
Masterson, J.P., Pope, J.P., Monti, Jack, Jr., and Nardi, M.R., 2011, Assessing groundwater availability in the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3019, 4 p. (Also available at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2011/3019).
 
Masterson, J.P., Pope, J.P., Monti, Jack, Jr., Nardi, M.R., Finkelstein, J.S., and McCoy, K.J., 2015, Hydrogeology and hydrologic conditions of the Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain aquifer system from Long Island, New York, to North Carolina (ver. 1.1, September 2015): U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2013–5133, 76 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/sir20135133.
 
Eggleston, Jack, and Pope, Jason, 2013, Land subsidence and relative sea-level rise in the southern Chesapeake Bay region: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1392, 30 p.,  http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/cir1392.  

Project
Location by County

Kings County, NY, Queens County, NY, Richmond County, NY, New York
County, NY, Bronx County, NY, Nassau County, NY, Suffolk County, NY