Oley Township covers an area of 24 square miles, about half of which is underlain by highly permeable carbonate rocks. Nondomestic wells in these rocks typically have yields of 200 gallons per minute, and some wells yield more than 1,000 gallons per minute. Ground-water yield for Oley Township is about 0.5 million gallons per day per square mile. Thus, about 12 million gallons per day could be pumped from wells on a sustained basis. However, pumping this amount would adversely affect streamflow. A series of discharge measurements on Manatawny Creek in January 1983 showed that the creek was gaining approximately 12 cubic feet per second where it crosses the more- permeable carbonate rocks. Thus, the streams are directly connected to these aquifers.
The northern and western parts of the township are mostly underlain by shale, quartzite, granite, gneiss, and carbonate rocks of low permeability, and some wells do not yield enough water for domestic supplies. A water-table map shows that two active quarries in low-permeability rocks have had little effect on the hydrologic system.
Specific yields are about 4.5 percent for the carbonate rocks; 5 percent for quartzite, granite, and gneiss; 1 percent for the noncarbonate sedimentary rocks; and 1.5 percent for the Jacksonburg Limestone, which consists of argillaceous limestone.
In 1982--a year of average precipitation--the ground-water contribution to total streamflow ranged from 56 to 88 percent. Basins with the highest percentage of carbonate rock contribute the largest amount of ground water to streamflow. Evapotranspiration averaged about 26 inches in 1982. Water loss was 32 inches in the Limekiln Creek basin; this suggests that about 6 inches of precipitation bypassed the Limekiln Creek gaging station as ground-water underflow.
The most serious water-quality problems are excessive nitrate concentrations and bacterial contamination. Water from 3 of 19 wells in carbonate rocks had nitrate concentrations in excess of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level of 10 milligrams per liter. Water from 5 of the 19 wells had fecal streptococci counts of more than 20 colonies per 100 milliliters. Although most agencies concerned with the protection of public health have not set limits for fecal streptococci, they are pathogenic, and their presence in drinking water is undesirable.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of Oley Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania