Groundwater Research & Analysis

HRPDC and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have jointly funded many groundwater programs and projects for the Hampton Roads Region. These efforts support the sound management of groundwater resources in the Virginia Coastal Plain through data collection and the development of appropriate analysis tools. HRPDC-USGS cooperative programs and studies are summarized below. This page also includes a list of groundwater management issues and related resources.


Groundwater Level Monitoring

The groundwater level monitoring program is a long-term program designed to evaluate trends in the water levels in the Virginia Coastal Plain. Measurements of water levels are made in many types of wells using consistent equipment and techniques to ensure that the measurements can be compared over time and at different locations. The program was jointly funded by HRPDC and USGS through fiscal year 2012. Access the USGS Groundwater Watch Virginia Active Water Level Network Opens Link in New Tab.

Chloride Monitoring

The chloride-monitoring program was initiated in 1995. The objectives of the program are to: 1) Evaluate the spatial and temporal distribution of chloride concentrations in the groundwater; 2) Evaluate the factors that influence the distribution of chloride; and 3) Assess the potential for up-coning or lateral intrusion of saltwater in the aquifers. The program was jointly funded by HRPDC and USGS through fiscal year 2012. Read more about the USGS Virginia Coastal Plain Chloride Monitoring Network Opens Link in New Tab.


Land Subsidence and Relative Sea-Level Rise in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region

This study, prepared in cooperation with HRPDC, explains how land subsidence and rising water levels combine to cause relative sea-level rise in the southern Chesapeake Bay region. According to the study, “Data indicate that land subsidence has been responsible for more than half the relative sea-level rise measured in the region.” Access the USGS report below:

USGS Circular 1392 (2013):

Groundwater Model for the Virginia Coastal Plain Aquifer System

The Virginia Coastal Plain Groundwater Model was developed to provide a better tool to understand the groundwater resource through simulation of groundwater withdrawals, drought, and saltwater intrusion. Read more in the article titled “A New Groundwater Model on p. 18 of the Winter 2010 publication of the American Water Works Association, Virginia Section Magazine, Tap Into Virginia. Access the USGS report below:

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5039 (2009):

Virginia Coastal Plain Hydrogeologic Framework

This study provides a refined description of the aquifer system of the Virginia Coastal Plain and presents a hydrogeologic framework for ground-water investigation and a new perspective on the regional ground-water system by incorporating information from studies of the Chesapeake Bay impact crater. Access the USGS report below:

USGS Professional Paper 1731 (2006):

Chesapeake Bay Impact Crater

Approximately 35 million years ago, a large comet or meteorite crashed into the shallow waters of the Atlantic Ocean near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The force of the collision dramatically disrupted the existing geology and formed a large regional anomaly that changed existing rock formations, sediment accumulation patterns, compaction forces, and groundwater movement. Studies have been completed to help understand the physical features of the Chesapeake Bay impact crater and the relationship to eastern Virginia’s groundwater system. Access the USGS reports below:

USGS Professional Paper 1622 (2000):

USGS Professional Paper 1612 (1999):

Regional Groundwater Quality Trends

The assessment of regional groundwater quality trends was a collaborative effort between HRPDC, USGS, and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. The study provides an updated regional characterization of groundwater quality to facilitate effective resource management and planning. This effort consolidated groundwater quality data from USGS, DEQ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). Water quality data was evaluated with respect to the revised hydrogeologic framework and the associated groundwater flow model developed by the USGS. Access the USGS report below:

USGS Professional Paper 1772 (2010):

Groundwater Withdrawals by Private Domestic Wells

A significant portion of the population of southeastern Virginia relies on private wells to supply water for household consumption and other uses. A comprehensive analysis of private domestic well withdrawals in the Coastal Plain was conducted, and study results indicate that the overall magnitude of these withdrawals and associated effects on local and regional ground-water flow are larger and more important than reported by previous studies. Private well withdrawals for domestic use in the Coastal Plain are estimated to be approximately 40 million gallons per day, or about 28 percent of all ground-water withdrawals in the area. Access the USGS report below:

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5250 (2007):


Salt Water Intrusion

Coastal Plain Aquifer and Groundwater Modeling

Localized Ground Subsidence and Groundwater Impacts

International Paper Franklin Mill Closure