Maryland Department of Natural Resources

MGS co-authors paper on the MD Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System--A GIS-based tool for managing groundwater resources

May 19, 2016

MGS geologists have contributed a chapter to a new Geological Society of America Special Publication: Geoscience for the Public Good: Toward a Sustainable Future

The Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System: A GIS-based tool for assessing groundwater resources

David C. Andreasen, Mark R. Nardi, Andrew W. Staley, Grufron Achmad, and John W. Grace


Groundwater is the source of drinking water for ~1.4 million people in the Coastal Plain Province of Maryland (USA). In addition, groundwater is essential for commercial, industrial, and agricultural uses. Approximately 0.757 × 109 L d–1 (200 million gallons/d) were withdrawn in 2010. As a result of decades of withdrawals from the coastal plain confined aquifers, groundwater levels have declined by as much as 70 m (230 ft) from estimated prepumping levels. Other issues posing challenges to long-term groundwater sustainability include degraded water quality from both man-made and natural sources, reduced stream baseflow, land subsidence, and changing recharge patterns (drought) caused by climate change. In Maryland, groundwater supply is managed primarily by the Maryland Department of the Environment, which seeks to balance reasonable use of the resource with long-term sustainability. The chief goal of groundwater management in Maryland is to ensure safe and adequate supplies for all current and future users through the implementation of appropriate usage, planning, and conservation policies. To assist in that effort, the geographic information system (GIS)–based Maryland Coastal Plain Aquifer Information System was developed as a tool to help water managers access and visualize groundwater data for use in the evaluation of groundwater allocation and use permits. The system, contained within an ESRI ArcMap desktop environment, includes both interpreted and basic data for 16 aquifers and 14 confining units. Data map layers include aquifer and confining unit layer surfaces, aquifer extents, borehole information, hydraulic properties, time-series groundwater-level data, well records, and geophysical and lithologic logs. The aquifer and confining unit layer surfaces were generated specifically for the GIS system. The system also contains select groundwater-quality data and map layers that quantify groundwater and surface-water withdrawals. The aquifer information system can serve as a pre- and postprocessing environment for groundwater-flow models for use in water-supply planning, development, and management. The system also can be expanded to include features that evaluate constraints to groundwater development, such as insufficient available drawdown, degraded groundwater quality, insufficient aquifer yields, and well-field interference. Ultimately, the aquifer information system is intended to function as an interactive Web-based utility that provides a broad array of information related to groundwater resources in Maryland’s coastal plain to a wide-ranging audience, including well drillers, consultants, academia, and the general public.

This paper appears as a chapter in:

Geoscience for the Public Good: Toward a Sustainable Future
This new book from the Geological Society of America emphasizes “geological stewardship for the good of humankind.” In the their introduction, editors Gregory Wessel and Jeffrey Greenberg write, “The challenge of doing science for the public good is not for the faint-hearted. It requires an ability to imagine what a better world might be like and a concern for the future of others as well as your own descendants.”

The book calls for geoscientists to be “more proactive in applying their research skills to earth environments, communities, and populations of greatest need.”

To that end, the contributing authors to this 39-chapter volume offer an overview of the applications of the geosciences to sustainable development and geo-philanthropic efforts worldwide and advice to guide the creation of development projects.

The book covers general principles and guidelines for creating sustainable solutions, building foundations for effective international development, the importance of ethical and social values, the motivation behind sustainable development, and how geoscientists can best become development practitioners.

Topics include electric vehicle batteries, water development aid in Ethiopia, potential mineral hazards in California, groundwater resources in Haiti, teaching earthquake-resistant building techniques in Guatemala, and U.S. Army–Afghan hydrological development efforts.

This book can be purchased through The Geological Society of America's online store or by contacting GSA Sales and Service, Book editors of earth-science journals/publications: please request a review copy by contacting April Leo,