Groundwater Pumping Decisions and Land Subsidence in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region of Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Land subsidence is the gradual settling or sudden sinking of the earth's surface. According to the United States Geological Survey more than 80% of identified subsidence in the United States is a result of groundwater removal. Due to the hydrologic structure and reliance on the Potomac Aquifer, the Southern Chesapeake Bay region of Virginia has suffered from land subsidence since the 1940s. In coastal regions, land subsidence can increase the risk of flooding. This paper presents a mathematical simulation that predicts land subsidence from groundwater pumping. This simulation is used to see how the location of groundwater pumping, as well as the amount of amount of groundwater pumped would differ from two different groundwater pumping policies. The first policy is aimed at limiting land subsidence in the region, while the second policy aims at limiting the damages from land subsidence. These two policies are used to show that a spatially heterogeneous groundwater pumping policy is necessary to minimize the damages from groundwater pumping when land subsidence is present.

Groundwater, Spatial Externality, Land Subsidence