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Released: 10/6/1995

Contact Information:
U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Office of Communication
119 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Rebecca Phipps 1-click interview
Phone: 703-648-4460

Rains from tropical storm Opal are expected to have little significant impact on long-term drought conditions in the eastern U.S., particularly ground-water levels, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ground-water levels are below normal from Virginia to Maine, with many wells at or near record-low levels.

"Despite the rains from Opal, we are clearly in the midst of a hydrologic drought," said Gordon Eaton, USGS Director. "Not only are ground-water levels low, but streamflows and key reservoirs in the East are low as well.

"During a drought, the USGS supplies critical water data to help water managers better manage local water resources that are limited by low-flow conditions," Eaton said. "Flow in the Delaware River system that supplies New York City and monitoring the salt front in the Hudson River are just a few of many mutual concerns."

A hydrologic drought occurs when the natural water system that we depend on -- the rivers, streams, and ground-water levels in wells -- are adversely affected by a lack of long-term moisture. The impact can be severe, and can take many months, or even years, of normal precipitation to reverse.

Throughout New England, ground-water levels are below normal; in most places they have been in a steady decline since early August. At several wells in Maine, new record lows have been measured.

In New Hampshire, the water level in a USGS ground-water observation well near Concord is 44.6 feet below the land surface, or, 3.5 feet below the long-term average level for September.

In New York, at a well about 20 miles south of Albany, the water level is 12.9 feet below the land surface, or, 4 feet below the long-term average for September.

In Maryland, at a well in Montgomery County, near Washington, D.C., the water level is 15.9 feet below the land surface, or, 2.3 feet below the long-term average for September.

In Virginia, at a well in Buckingham County (south of Charlottesville), the water level is 25.7 feet below the land surface, or, nearly four feet below the long-term average level for September.

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