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Information available for state drillers, agencies

By AMANDA SCOTT

Staff writer

A newly published report about the state’s 16 aquifers provides “critical” information for making water-management decisions, officials say.

The “Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System: Hydrogeologic Framework” report from the Maryland Geological Survey describes Maryland’s major aquifers that will help to protect groundwater resources for nearly all of the state’s coastal residents.

“This report provides information critical to making water-management decisions,” a Maryland Department of Natural Resources press release states.

According to the release, aquifers are bodies of permeable rock that contain or transmit groundwater. Within an aquifer, water moves through the spaces between individual sand or gravel particles, rather than in underground rivers or veins.

Groundwater is the sole source of fresh drinking water for approximately 2 million coastal residents, the release states. Groundwater is important for agricultural, commercial and industrial uses, as well as for sustaining healthy populations of fish and other aquatic organisms, as groundwater supplies water to streams and rivers.

Maryland Geological Survey members David C. Andreasen, Andrew W. Staley and Grufron Achmad developed the report, which covers the entire portion of Maryland’s approximately 8,000-square-foot Coastal Plain Province, including the Calvert aquifer system.

Staley said Wednesday afternoon there have been individual surveys and reports conducted on specific Maryland aquifers in the past, but this report is a compilation of those and new hydraulic analyses.

The “Hydrogeologic Framework” report, Staley said, tries to characterize the different layers of aquifers and describe the depth and location at which the aquifers can be found.

The report is important, Staley said, because it will educate and aid drillers and state agencies, such as the Maryland Department of the Environment.

Staley said when MDE reviews water appropriation permit requests, MDE can use the report to determine if the aquifer in question can support the request and could better understand the long-term effects of approving such a request.

According to the report, the Calvert aquifer system is a minor aquifer in Southern Maryland that has historically supplied water for limited domestic and farm use. In addition, the system is “an important water supply in the central Eastern Shore of Maryland ... as well as in central Delaware.”

Appropriated use of the Calvert aquifer system totaled about 8.6 million gallons per day in 2011, the report states.

“In Southern Maryland,” the report continues, “the Calvert aquifer system is predominately clay-rich, functioning only as a minor aquifer.”

ascott@somdnews.com