Press Release

BALTIMORE (December 15, 1998) -- The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has concluded a comprehensive study of the Piney Point Aquifer in Caroline County which suggests that all currently permitted and existing uses will not unreasonably impact the aquifer or cause conflicts with other users.

The department initiated the study of water use and availability in the region last May after public concerns were expressed about the adequacy of the aquifer after an increase in the number of farmers who applied for water appropriation permits for irrigation. MDE temporarily suspended the processing of applications for water appropriation permits for large uses from the aquifer while the study was in progress. As part of the study, MDE used a computer-generated model of the aquifer system.

The Piney Point Aquifer extends from North Carolina to New Jersey. Within Maryland, it provides 360 million gallons-per-day of potable water in Calvert and St. Mary's counties on the Western Shore and in Queen Anne's, Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties on the Eastern Shore. Within Caroline County, it is 100 feet down at its most shallow and 500 feet at its deepest.

The study and the model allowed a comprehensive evaluation of the cumulative impacts of all existing and proposed water uses, permitted water uses of the aquifer, including known water uses in surrounding counties and Delaware. In addition to being able to support current water uses, the aquifer can support additional withdrawals above existing levels. A future study will attempt to estimate the maximum safe yield of the aquifer. The future study is expected to take between 3 to 6 months to complete.

As a result of this completed study, the department has resumed processing all application for groundwater from the Piney Point Aquifer. Permit applications will continue to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Anyone interested in requesting a public meeting to discuss the study results should contact Mark Jacobs of MDE at (410) 631-3591. A copy of the Summary of Preliminary Results of the study will be available for review at the Denton Branch of the Caroline County Library.