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The Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System: A GIS-based tool for assessing groundwater resources

June 27, 2016

Groundwater is the source of drinking water for ∼1.4 million people in the Coastal Plain Province of Maryland (USA). In addition, groundwater is essential for commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses. Approximately 0.757 × 109 L d–1 (200 million gallons/d) were withdrawn in 2010. As a result of decades of withdrawals from the coastal plain confined aquifers, groundwater levels have declined by as much as 70 m (230 ft) from estimated prepumping levels. Other issues posing challenges to long-term groundwater sustainability include degraded water quality from both man-made and natural sources, reduced stream base flow, land subsidence, and changing recharge patterns (drought) caused by climate change. In Maryland, groundwater supply is managed primarily by the Maryland Department of the Environment, which seeks to balance reasonable use of the resource with long-term sustainability. The chief goal of groundwater management in Maryland is to ensure safe and adequate supplies for all current and future users through the implementation of appropriate usage, planning, and conservation policies. To assist in that effort, the geographic information system (GIS)–based Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System was developed as a tool to help water managers access and visualize groundwater data for use in the evaluation of groundwater allocation and use permits. The system, contained within an ESRI ArcMap desktop environment, includes both interpreted and basic data for 16 aquifers and 14 confining units. Data map layers include aquifer and ­confining unit layer surfaces, aquifer extents, borehole information, hydraulic properties, time-series groundwater-level data, well records, and geophysical and lithologic logs. The aquifer and confining unit layer surfaces were generated specifically for the GIS system. The system also contains select groundwater-quality data and map layers that quantify groundwater and surface-water withdrawals. The aquifer information system can serve as a pre- and postprocessing environment for groundwater-flow models for use in water-supply planning, development, and management. The system also can be expanded to include features that evaluate constraints to groundwater development, such as insufficient available drawdown, degraded groundwater quality, insufficient aquifer yields, and well-field interference. Ultimately, the aquifer information system is intended to function as an interactive Web-based utility that provides a broad array of information related to groundwater resources in Maryland’s coastal plain to a wide-ranging audience, including well drillers, consultants, academia, and the general public.

Publication Year 2016
Title The Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System: A GIS-based tool for assessing groundwater resources
DOI 10.1130/2016.2520(15)
Authors David C. Andreasen, Mark R. Nardi, Andrew W. Staley, Grufron Achmad, John W. Grace
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Special Paper of the Geological Society of America
Index ID 70174072
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Maryland Water Science Center