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Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4000

Prepared in cooperation with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence

Delineation of Groundwater Recharge Areas, Western Cape Cod, Massachusetts

By John P. Masterson and Donald A. Walter

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (2.88 MB)Introduction

The unconfined sand-and-gravel aquifer in western Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is the sole source of water supply for the communities in the area, is recharged primarily from precipitation. The rate of recharge from precipitation is estimated to be about 26 inches per year (in/yr), or about 60 percent of the precipitation rate. This recharge rate yields a flow through the aquifer of about 180 million gallons per day (Mgal/d). Groundwater flows radially outward from the top of the water-table mound in the north-central part of the flow system toward the coast, as indicated by the water-table contours on the large map on this sheet. Recharge that reaches the water table near the top of the mound travels deeper through the aquifer than recharge that reaches the water table closer to the coast. All recharge to the aquifer ultimately discharges to pumping wells, streams, or coastal areas; however, some of this recharge may flow first through kettle ponds before eventually reaching these discharge points.

Continued land development and population growth on western Cape Cod, and activities related to the operation of the Massachusetts Military Reservation (MMR), have created concerns regarding the supply of potable water in western Cape Cod and the quality and quantity of water discharging to ponds, streams, and coastal areas. Recent investigations estimated the future demand for drinking water in western Cape Cod, as well as the areas that contribute water to existing and proposed public-supply wells. Determining the source of freshwater that discharges to ponds, streams, and coastal areas is of critical importance in the protection of these natural resources for the communities of western Cape Cod.

The purpose of this report is to illustrate concepts of ground-water recharge areas under average pumping and recharge conditions. This report presents results of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Air Force Center for Environmental Excellence (AFCEE), to delineate the areas that contribute recharge to public-supply wells, ponds, streams, and coastal areas on western Cape Cod for average annual pumping and recharge rates for the period of 1994–1996.

The time period of 1994–1996 was selected for this analysis because it represents the average stress conditions prior to large-scale pumping, treatment, and reinjection of water from the MMR Installation Restoration Program's ground-water remediation systems. The pumping and reinjection of large amounts of water from these remediation systems would complicate greatly the delineation of ground-water recharge areas and therefore is beyond the scope of this analysis. The Chemical Spill-4 plume-containment system, however, is included in the simulation since it has been operating since 1993 and has been pumping, treating, and reinjecting only about 0.2 Mgal/d of water.

Since 1996, however, AFCEE has constructed remediation systems for seven additional contaminant plumes that are not included in this analysis. Currently (1999), these systems are pumping, treating, and reinjecting about 9.7 Mgal/d. By 2002, when all of these systems, including those being designed, are expected to be operating, it is estimated that they will be pumping, treating, and reinjecting as much as 15.6 Mgal/d of water in the western Cape Cod aquifer.

For additional information on the hydrology and geology of western Cape Cod, the reader is referred to the following reports: LeBlanc and others (1986), Barlow and Hess (1993), Masterson and others (1997a), Masterson and others (1997b), Masterson and others (1998), Ogden Environmental and Energy Services, Inc. (1998) and Jacobs Engineering Group, Inc. (1999).

First posted December 10, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Office Chief, Massachusetts-Rhode Island Office
New England Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey 
10 Bearfoot Road 
Northborough, MA 01532 
(508) 490–5000

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Suggested citation:

Masterson, J.P., and Walter, D.A., Delineation of groundwater recharge areas, western Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 2000: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000–4000, 1 p.,

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