All of the aquifers beneath the Pinelands are important since they provide drinking water for residents of the area and because they are limited in number. From an ecological perspective, however, the shallow Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer system has special significance.
The Kirkwood-Cohansey is the life blood of the Pine Barrens. Ninety percent of the water in streams, rivers and wetlands is supplied by this aquifer system in the form of baseflow. In addition, since water in this aquifer often occurs less than a few feet beneath ground surface, it directly supplies water to the roots of Pine Barrens trees, shrubs and plants. Some of which are rare, threatened or endangered. It is for this reason that the aquifer is referred to as the shallow water table aquifer.
[+ ZOOM] The upper Batsto River. © Albert D. Horner
On average the Pinelands receives about 44 inches of precipitation annually. About half of this water is transpired by vegetation or evaporates. A small amount enters streams as storm runoff. Only about 17 to 20 inches annually actually enters the ground. Some of this water works its way through the soil and eventually reaches the water table. From here a portion flows into nearby streams and wetlands providing the necessary water to sustain these ecosystems.