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Hydrogeology, degradation of ground-water quality, and simulation of infiltration from the Delaware River into the Potomac aquifers, northern Delaware

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4185

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Abstract

Brackish water is infiltrating from the Delaware River into the underlying Potomac aquifers in the Cretaceous Potomac Formation in northern Delaware. Evidence that infiltration at the river is actually occurring includes chloride concentrations in the aquifers that are above ambient levels and chemical characteristics of groundwater and river water that are similar. Water quality within the Potomac aquifers has been degraded by the infiltration of river water and by leachate from waste disposal sites. The ambient groundwater has chloride concentrations from 10 to 21 mg/L. Chemical analyses indicate that the ambient groundwater is a sodium magnesium calcium-chloride sulfate bicarbonate type. Areas of the Potomac aquifers that have been degraded have chloride concentrations from 40 to 8,600 m/L, with specific conductances of 200 to 27 ,200 microsiemens/cm at 25 C. Chemical analyses indicate the groundwater in these areas is a sodium-chlorate type. Two wells in the lower Potomac aquifer near the Wilmington Marine Terminal also have been affected by the infiltration of river water. Leachate from waste disposal sites has caused localized groundwater degradation in all three Potomac aquifers, especially north of the Delaware Memorial Bridge and at sites near Army Creek and Red Lion Creek. Chloride concentrations up to 8,600 mg/L have resulted from waste disposal leachate. Simulated infiltration of river water into the Potomac aquifers accounts for approximately 6 to 12% of the total aquifer recharge in the area of influence of the pumping. There is a direct correlation between the rate of infiltration of river water and the total well-field pumpage. The rate of infiltration of river water for the pumping scenarios ranged from 0.31 to 0.62 million gal/day. Simulations of freshwater injection demonstrated that 12 barriers wells, each injecting 300 gal/min, would be needed to create a barrier against the infiltration of river water in the upper Potomac aquifer, whereas the middle Potomac aquifer would require 7 wells in injecting 200 gal/min. (Author 's abstract)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeology, degradation of ground-water quality, and simulation of infiltration from the Delaware River into the Potomac aquifers, northern Delaware
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
87-4185
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1987
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey,
Description:
viii, 86 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.