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Water Resources of Virginia

Seal of the City of Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach Shallow Groundwater Study

Virginia Beach

Cooperating Agency
City of Virginia Beach Department of Public Utilities 

Project Chief
Kurt McCoy

Period of Project
1996 to present

Groundwater Data

Map of Wells



Virginia Beach Shallow Groundwater Study
graphic element

Monitoring Wells

Land Use

 Figure 15 from SIR-05-5067

Groundwater Pumping Study

The purpose of the Virginia Beach shallow aquifer study is to better understand the distribution of fresh groundwater, its susceptibility to contamination, and its sustainability as a long-term water supply.

Virginia Beach Water Resources
Virginia Beach is a growing city in southeastern Virginia with a limited supply of fresh water. Most of the city’s drinking water, up to 45 million gallons per day, comes from Lake Gaston. The Lake Gaston pipeline supplies water for the northern half of Virginia Beach, but the southern rural boroughs rely solely on groundwater (Johnson, 1999).

USGS Hydrologic Monitoring: Interactive Map

Historical Data: Interactive Map

Ongoing Studies

Shallow Groundwater Use - Northern Virginia Beach

The city of Virginia Beach has an interest in preserving the limited supply of water in the shallow aquifers for drinking, irrigation, lawn watering, heat pumps, and potentially for desalination. In the Northern part of the city, private wells primarily provide water for irrigation, car washing, pool filling, and other seasonal uses. Supplies of groundwater are limited, however, because of high concentrations of iron, manganese, chloride and (or) sulfide ions in some areas. At depths greater than approximately 150 to 200 ft, the water is generally too saline to drink or use for irrigation.

A study of water use in northern Virginia Beach is ongoing. Seasonal water use will be estimated by applying water use methods developed by the USGS. 

Aquifer Simulation

The USGS has developed a model of groundwater flow and groundwater salinity in the shallow aquifers of the southern watersheds of Virginia Beach (Smith, 2003). The model can be used to simulate a wide variety of scenarios involving groundwater use. For example, the slow but steady movement of chloride concentrations toward a hypothetical well field pumping from the York-Eastover aquifer has been simulated (Smith, 2005), as well as drawdown around hypothetical open-pit mines in the Columbia aquifer. A USGS Scientific Investigations Report on the results of the groundwater flow simulations for the shallow aquifers was published in the summer of 2005.

Reports: Smith, 2003, Smith, 2005

Geologic Characterization

The hydrogeologic framework of the shallow aquifer system at Virginia Beach was revised to provide a better understanding of the distribution of fresh groundwater, its potential use, and its susceptibility to contamination. The revised conceptual framework is based primarily on analyses of continuous cores and downhole geophysical logs collected at 7 sites to depths of approximately 200 ft.

Reports: Smith and Harlow, 2002

Ground-Water Monitoring

A water-level and water-quality network  has been established in the city and includes a growing number of continuous wells that measure groundwater levels every 15 minutes. View Map of Wells

In 2004, the USGS and the Virginia Department of Public Utilities expanded the observation-well network and simulated ground-water pumping from the shallow aquifers in the Transition Area. In 2005 and 2006, more continuous-record wells including "real-time" water-level monitors were added to the network. In 2007 new probes will be added to two wells for measuring temperature and salinity.


1. Virginia Beach Shallow Ground-Water Study USGS Fact Sheet (Johnson, 1999)

2. Conceptual Hydrogeologic Framework of the Shallow Aquifer System at Virginia Beach, Virginia (Smith & Harlow, 2001) WRIR 01-4262

3. Ground-Water Flow and Saline Water in the Shallow Aquifer System of the Southern Watersheds of Virginia Beach, Virginia (Smith, 2003) WRIR 03-4258

4. Simulated Changes in Water Levels Caused by Potential Changes in Pumping from Shallow Aquifers of Virginia Beach, Virginia (Smith, 2005) SIR 2005-5067

5. Outdoor Water Use and Water Conservation Opportunities in Virginia Beach, Virginia (Eggleston, 2010) FS 2010-3007

6. Assessing the magnitude and timing of anthropogenic warming of a shallow aquifer: example from Virginia Beach, USA (Eggleston and McCoy, 2014) Hydrogeology Journal

Weather data for Virginia Beach area
Virginia Projects or: Water Resources of Virginia
U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Last modified: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 12:02:40 PM