Upper Kittitas Groundwater Study

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The United States Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a major study of the western Kittitas County groundwater-flow system to provide current, complete scientific information for making good decisions about managing this important resource.  The problem statement and objectives for the study are:

Problem - Baseflows in the tributary streams in the western portion of Kittitas County are important in the late summer and fall when demands on these streams peak.  The ongoing USGS Yakima study indicates that groundwater and surface water are interconnected in the Yakima River basin, however the hydrogeologic framework and the potential impacts of groundwater withdrawals on tributary streamflow in the bedrock system were not investigated.

Objectives - The objectives for the groundwater study have been defined by a joint effort of Kittitas County, Ecology, and other parties.  These objectives are to:

  1. Define the hydrogeology of the study area,
  2. Provide information regarding groundwater occurrence and availability,
  3. Describe the potential extent of groundwater and surface water continuity in the study area, and
  4. Determine the extent of potential impairment resulting from well use.

Relevance and Benefits - The study addresses most issues identified in the Water Resources Discipline's strategic plan and the Washington Water Science Center's priority program opportunities for meeting the Nation's needs.  These issues include tools for managing the Nation's watersheds effectively and improving simulation tools for transference to others.  The assessment of availability and sustainability of America's water, and estimating effects of land-use and management alternatives on quantity and providing such information for National assessments also are important issues.  These issues and the study address river-basin simulation and groundwater withdrawal effects on surface water.  Last, the USGS is a neutral scientific party for providing information, and is building partnerships to solve important problems that are common in the Nation.

Approach - Data collection, watershed characterization, and assessment of the water resources of western Kittitas County are being conducted on a basin-wide scale and all major components of the water budget examined. Existing hydrologic and hydrogeologic data have been compiled and entered into the appropriate databases.  New hydrologic data have been collected, compiled, and evaluated to support the characterization of the flow system.  Geospatial data have been compiled and entered in a newly created Geographic Information Systems-based database.  An understanding of the interaction between the aquifers and surface water will be based on the interpretations of existing and newly collected information.

USGS Scientific Investigations Report

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