Rapid suburban development occurred in Warminster Township and the surrounding area after World War II, resulting in a large population dependent on ground water. In 1980, approximately 2.7 billion gallons of ground water was pumped by public water suppliers and government facilities. Pumping wells can cause drawdown as far as 2,500 feet undip, downdip, or along strike even if the wells do not penetrate the same strata. Pumping wells have lowered base flow; a stream-gain-and-loss study showed that water lost from Little Neshaminy Creek was about 60 percent of the water pumped from wells near the stream. Net ground-water infiltration to sewers was about 830 million gallons in 1979, a wet year, and about 250 million gallons in 1980, a dry year. Estimated water budgets for 1979 and 1980 indicate evapotranspiration can range from 20 to 26 inches per year (1.0 to 1.2 million gallons per day per square mile) and recharge can range from 8 to 18 inches per year (0.4 to 0.9 million gallons per day per square mile). In a year with average precipitation (45 inches or 2.1 million gallons per day per square mile), evapotranspiration is about 24 inches (1.1 million gallons per day per square mile). Ground-water development in the area influenced by pumping is at its practical limit for years of average recharge, but as much as 1.1 million gallons per day of additional water may be obtained by drilling and pumping wells in areas of Warminster Township not affected by pumping.
The concentration of most dissolved constituents increased in water from seven wells, sampled at the onset of urbanization in 1953 and 1956 and again in 1979. Ground-water contamination by volatile organic compounds, especially trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, has made water from some wells unsuitable for public supply. The concentration of lead in 26 samples of ground water ranged from 0 to 55 micrograms per liter, with a median of 17 micrograms per liter; this is above the reported national median and the median in nearby Chester County. High concentrations of sulfate and dissolved solids in ground water are probably caused by restricted gournd-water circulation and may be reduced by long-term pumping, which flushes the aquifer. Effluent from sewage treatment plants has degraded the quality of low streamflow.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Effect of urbanization on the water resources of Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania