Rural Douglas County Groundwater Network

Science Center Objects

More than 70 percent of the municipal water supply in the south Denver metropolitan area is provided by groundwater, and homeowners in rural areas depend solely on self-supplied groundwater for water supply. Increased groundwater withdrawal to meet the demand of the rapidly growing population is causing water levels to decline. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Rural Water Authority of Douglas County, began a study in 2011 to assess the groundwater resources of the Denver Basin aquifers within Douglas County, Colorado. The primary purpose of this study was to monitor changes in the groundwater levels of the bedrock aquifers of the Denver Basin within rural Douglas County. To better assess the water resources of the Denver Basin bedrock aquifers, a groundwater monitoring network was established in 2011. More than 500 manual and 213,900 automated water-level measurements collected from the 36 domestic-well network between April 2011 and June 2013 showed water-level declines in all aquifers.

History of water-level data collection in the Denver Basin:

  • The first comprehensive  measurements of water levels across the basin were made by the USGS from 1956 to 1963 and published by McConaghy and others (1964).
  • A second comprehensive set of water-level data for the bedrock and alluvial aquifers through 1981 was published by Major and others (1983).
  • Routine water-level measurements by the USGS continued  through the 1980s, were incorporated into the Robson (1987) groundwater flow model, and are available through the USGS National Water Information System (NWIS) (
  • The USGS NWIS data  were used for model calibration by recent USGS modeling efforts (Paschke, 2010). A water-level monitoring network of  approximately 278 wells was established in the 1980s by the Colorado Divison of Water Resources, and data from that network are published in annual  data reports.
  • A compilation and bibliography of all  available water-level data for bedrock and alluvial aquifers through 2004 was published as part of the South Platte Decision Support System.