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Simulated effects of pumping and drought on ground-water levels and the freshwater-saltwater interface on the north fork of Long Island, New York

April 22, 2005

Ground water is the sole source of freshwater on the North Fork of Long Island. Future demands for the limited freshwater supply during a prolonged drought could cause drawdowns that induce saltwater intrusion and render the supply unusable. The freshwater system on the North Fork contains several localized, hydraulically isolated aquifers bounded by salty water. The need for information on the ability of these aquifers to meet future demands prompted a 4-year study to develop a ground-water flow model to simulate several proposed pumping scenarios under long-term average conditions and during a hypothetical drought, and to delineate the resulting ground-water levels and movement of the freshwater-saltwater interface. The model code selected was SHARP, a quasi-three-dimensional finite-difference method of simulating freshwater and saltwater flow simultaneously.

Two sets of four proposed pumping scenarios were evaluated. The first represented average recharge from precipitation during 2006-20; the second represented the same period and conditions except for a 5-year period of drought conditions. The average-recharge simulations used the long-term (1959-99) rate of recharge; the drought simulations applied a 20-percent reduction in recharge rate and a 20-percent increase in the 1999 rate of agricultural pumpage during 2011–15.

The simulated movement of the freshwater-saltwater interface in future withdrawal and recharge scenarios indicates that the interface may rise beneath pumped wells at Inlet Drive, Brecknock Hall, Main Bayview Road, Islands End, North Road, and Alvah's Lane. Either (1) movement of the interface to within 50 feet of the well screen, (2) a large percent change in the distance between the interface and the well screen, or (3) movement of the interface through a clay layer is a cause for concern. Wellfields in which saltwater intrusion does not appear to be a cause for concern were those at Ackerly Pond, Kenney's Road, Middle Road, Rocky Point Road, and hypothetical sites where future wellfields have been proposed.