Science for the stewardship of the groundwater resources of Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Fact Sheet 2014-3067
This fact sheet was prepared with support from the Toxic Substances Hydrology and Groundwater Resources Programs of the U.S. Geological Survey.
By: , and 



Groundwater is the sole source of drinking water and a major source of freshwater for domestic, industrial, and agricultural uses on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Groundwater discharged from aquifers also supports freshwater pond and stream ecosystems and coastal wetlands. Six hydraulically distinct groundwater-flow systems (lenses) have been delineated on Cape Cod. Of the approximately 450 million gallons per day of water that enters these lenses as recharge from precipitation, about 69 percent discharges directly to the coast, about 24 percent discharges to streams, and almost 7 percent is withdrawn by public-supply wells. In most areas, groundwater in the sand and gravel aquifers is shallow and susceptible to contamination from anthropogenic sources and saltwater intrusion. Continued land development and population growth on Cape Cod have created concerns that potable water will become less available and that the quantity and quality of water flowing to natural discharge areas such as ponds, streams, and coastal waters will continue to decline.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been investigating groundwater and surface-water resources on Cape Cod for more than 50 years. Recent studies highlighted in this fact sheet have focused on the sources of water to public-supply wells, ponds, streams, and coastal areas; the transport and discharge of nitrogen derived from domestic and municipal disposal of wastewater; and the effects of climate change on groundwater and surface-water resources. Other USGS activities include long-term monitoring of groundwater and pond levels and field research on groundwater contamination at the USGS Cape Cod Toxic Substances Hydrology Research Site ( near the Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC), formerly the Massachusetts Military Reservation.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Science for the stewardship of the groundwater resources of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Series title Fact Sheet
Series number 2014-3067
DOI 10.3133/fs20143067
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Massachusetts Water Science Center, New England Water Science Center
Description 6 p.
Country United States
State Massachusetts
City Cape Cod
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