Forum: The Future Supply of Drinking Water in Maryland
By Gary Antonides, Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association
Do you know where your drinking water comes from when you turn on the tap, or how clean and safe it is to drink? Do you think it will always be plentiful and safe for your children and grandchildren and generations to follow?
In Maryland the drinking water supply is drawn from both surface water and groundwater sources. Each is currently stressed as a sustainable, safe source. In the coastal plain, roughly east of I-95, water is drawn from groundwater by municipal wells or private wells, in about 50-50 proportion. Water levels in the confined aquifers that are being pumped are dropping by about two feet per year.
The state has recently conducted a study of water age in the upper Patapsco aquifer. It was determined that the age of the water ranged from a few years old to over a million years old. This indicates that we are mining a natural resource that was deposited below the subsurface in the last ice age, and that the recharge mechanism is much slower than the rate of withdrawal.
As we are forced to draw water from deeper aquifers the quality of the water declines. Increased levels of iron and other mineral compounds are encountered. Local concentrations of radium, radon, and arsenic are currently present is some areas. Lower
aquifer levels means reduced hydrostatic pressure, and hydrostatic pressure keeps salt water from back-flowing into the source water supply. Aquifers on Kent Island, Annapolis Neck, and Ocean City now show signs of salt water intrusion.
Add to this picture two additional considerations:
- Maryland’s population is steadily growing; an additional 10% is expected by 2030
- Climate change is real and already affecting rain events, droughts, and water demand
Clean water is a necessity for all. It should be considered as a natural resource. The State
should exercise the doctrine of public trust over water and manage it for quality and
sustainability. As in such cases the public needs to be informed to provide oversight. Absent
public involvement, decisions that will affect us all will be guided by special interests.
The Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association is concerned about these issues and
thinks you should be too. We invite you to attend our forum on Friday May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM
at the Calvary United Methodist Church, 301 Rowe Blvd., Annapolis, just east of the Navy-
Marine Corps Stadium, to hear from experts and the individuals that are responsible for
managing and protecting groundwater resources in Maryland.
The featured speakers will be:
- Dr. Al Tucker, President Chesapeake Environmental Protection Association
- Saeid Kasraei, Director, Water Supply Program, Maryland Department of the Environment
- David Bolton, Chief Hydrologist, Maryland Geological Survey