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Is the groundwater that we in Southern Maryland depend upon a renewable natural resource?

A recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey in the Hydrogeology Journal indicates that it might not be. This study indicates that our groundwater, especially that in the Patapsco aquifer, is ancient and was deposited hundreds of thousands years ago not recently as we have long assumed.

Furthermore, it reveals that our modern water usage is tapping groundwater that accumulated in the aquifer over multiple climate cycles and in turn is recharging very slowly.

To be noted, the Patapsco aquifer is the aquifer that we in Charles County are becoming increasingly dependent upon for our water supply.

Also, to be noted, an earlier study of the Aquia aquifer in Southern Maryland revealed its groundwater to be thousands of years old. The more recent USGS study reveals the groundwater in the Patapsco aquifer to be even older and points out that the water age in our aquifers increases with depth.

The study concludes that our groundwater is not renewable in human life spans. This is a startling conclusion and one our planners need to become aware of.

Charles Countyís population and water demand are increasing, and it is projected that this will continue for the next several decades. Notably, this projected growth and increasing water demand is anticipated to be far in excess of that of our neighbors in St Maryís and Calvert counties.

Already, we are one of Marylandís largest users of groundwater. How long can this continue?

Arthur F. Krueger, Accokeek