The confined Atlantic City 800-foot sand and the unconfined Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system (surficial aquifer) are major sources of water for southeastern New Jersey. Because of recent concerns about streamflow depletion resulting from ground-water withdrawals and the potential ecological effects on stream habitat in the area, the focus on future withdrawals has been shifted away from the surficial aquifer to the confined Atlantic City 800-foot sand until the effects of increased withdrawals from the surficial aquifer can be investigated. A study was conducted to evaluate the effects of seven proposed increases in ground-water withdrawals from the Atlantic City 800-foot sand and the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system on the Atlantic City 800-foot sand. The proposed withdrawals are increases above the 2004 allocated rates (full allocation). The effects of full-allocation ground-water withdrawals and the cumulative effect of withdrawals for each of seven proposed increases in withdrawals were simulated using three previously published ground-water flow models: the New Jersey Coastal Plain Regional Aquifer System Analysis model, the Coastal Plain Optimization model, and a model of the Atlantic City 800-foot sand in Atlantic County, New Jersey. These models were used to simulate changes in water levels, the source supplying the increased ground-water flow, and the effects on saltwater movement towards production wells in Cape May County as a result of the proposed increased withdrawals at proposed or existing wells.
The results of the simulations represent the effects of the proposed increase from full-allocation withdrawals to an additional 1,825 Mgal/yr (million gallons per year) from the Atlantic City 800-foot sand and an additional 1,045 Mgal/yr from the deep part of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system near the updip limit of the Atlantic City 800-foot sand. Most of the simulated decline in water levels in Atlantic County occurred as the result of the proposed increased withdrawals simulated for the New Jersey American Water Company wells. Simulated declines in water levels in Cape May were caused mainly by the simulated increased withdrawals for the Cape May City Desalination Plant wells. The additional water to supply the proposed increases in the scenarios was primarily horizontal flow from the unconfined updip part of the Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system, which accounted for 63 percent of the inflow, and flow from the overlying Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system into the Atlantic City 800-foot sand, which supplied 27 percent of the additional water. Because the withdrawals were made from the confined aquifer and the deeper part of the unconfined aquifer, the effect on streamflow was substantially less than would have occurred had the withdrawals been made directly from the shallower parts of the unconfined aquifer. The travel times from the 250-mg/L isochlor to production wells in Stone Harbor were longer as a result of all the additional withdrawals. For some scenarios, withdrawals in Atlantic County caused the saltwater to move slightly faster towards the production wells. These effects were offset by the increase in travel time caused by the potential increased withdrawals simulated for the Cape May City desalination wells, which either diverted water towards the desalination wells or increased the travel time towards production wells.