In cooperation with the Delaware River Basin Commission

Vulnerability of Production Wells in the Potomac-Raritan-Magothy Aquifer System to Saltwater Intrusion from the Delaware River in Camden, Gloucester, and Salem Counties, New Jersey

By Anthony S. Navoy, Lois M. Voronin, and Edward Modica

U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5096


The report is available in PDF Format ( 9,408 KB)


The Potomac-Raritan-Magothy aquifer system is hydraulically connected to the Delaware River in parts of Camden and Gloucester Counties, New Jersey, and has more limited contact with the river in Salem County, New Jersey. The aquifer system is used widely for water supply, and 122 production wells that are permitted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to pump more than 100,000 gallons per day in the three counties are within 2 miles of the river. During drought, saltwater may encroach upstream from the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay to areas where the aquifer system is recharged by induced infiltration through the Delaware River streambed. During the drought of the mid-1960's, water with a chloride concentration in excess of potability standards (250 mg/L (milligrams per liter)) encroached into the reach of the river that recharges the aquifer system. The vulnerability of the major production wells in the area to similar saltwater encroachment in the future is a concern to water managers. This vulnerability was evaluated by investigating two scenarios: (1) a one-time recurrence of the conditions approximating those that occurred in the1960's, and (2) the recurrence of those same conditions on an annual basis.

Results of ground-water-flow simulation in conjunction with particle tracking and one-dimensional transport analysis indicate that the wells that are most vulnerable to saltwater intrusion are those in the Morris and Delair well fields in Camden County. A single 30-day event during which the concentration of dissolved chloride or sodium exceeds 2,098 mg/L or 407 mg/L, respectively, in the Delaware River would threaten the potability of water from these wells, given New Jersey drinking-water standards of 250 mg/L for dissolved chloride and 50 mg/L for dissolved sodium. This chloride concentration is about six times that observed in the river during the 1960's drought. An annually occurring 1-month event during which the concentrations of dissolved chloride or sodium in the river exceeds 1,818 mg/L or 358 mg/L, respectively, would threaten the potability of water from these wells. Wells outside the Morris and Delair well fields are substantially less vulnerable to the intermittent saltwater intrusion that was simulated.




Purpose and Scope

Previous Investigations


Hydrogeologic Framework

Water Use

River Salinity in Fall 1964

Vulnerability of Wells to Saltwater Intrusion

Wells in Camden and Gloucester Counties

Modeling Approach

Flow Paths and Travel Times

Limitations of Modeling

Wells in Salem County

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

If you have Adobe® Acrobat® or Adobe® Acrobat® Reader® installed on your computer, you may view and print the PDF version of this report. Acrobat Reader, is a free download from . Adobe Systems, IncUsers with disabilities can view information concerning accessibility at

For further information, contact:


Richard Kropp, District Chief

U.S. Geological Survey

810 Bear Tavern Road

Suite 206

West Trenton, NJ 08628

(609) 771-3900


or visit our Web site at:


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL:
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Last modified: Thursday, January 10 2013, 06:38:08 PM
FirstGov button  Take Pride in America button