A Geospatial Dataset of Attributes for Wells in the New England Groundwater Level Network, 2017

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The drought of 2016 affected hydrologic conditions throughout New England. Responses of USGS groundwater observation wells to this event, however, were not uniform and were sometimes markedly different from site to site. Although USGS scientists were able to provide explanations for most of these situations, staff who participated in drought advisory panels recognized the need for more well information to develop quantitative and reproducible analyses and interpretations  of groundwater-level data.  To address this need, a dataset of attributes for the wells in the New England groundwater-level network was developed.

Wells in the New England groundwater level network dataset, 2017

A map showing locations of wells in the New England groundwater level network dataset, 2017

A dataset of well information and geospatial data was developed for 426 active and discontinued U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) observation wells in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. An extensive list of attributes was compiled for each well to provide the public and water-resources community with comprehensive information on the USGS well network in New England that may be useful for evaluating groundwater conditions and variability across the region. The dataset provides the information needed to evaluate redundancies or gaps in the well network, which is a USGS priority, and conduct other regional hydrologic studies, such as drought forecasting and management and potential responses of groundwater flow systems to land-use and climate change. 

In total, the data include 91 attributes for each well. In addition to site number and station name, attributes were developed for site information (15 attributes); groundwater-level statistics through water year 2017 (16 attributes); well-construction information (9 attributes); topographic setting (12 attributes); climate (2 attributes); land use and cover (17 attributes); soils (4 attributes); and geology (14 attributes).  Basic well and site information includes well location, period of record, well-construction details, continuous versus intermittent data collection, and ground altitudes. Other attributes that may influence groundwater levels include: well depth, location of open or screened interval, aquifer type, soil type, surficial and bedrock geology, topographic position, distance to surface water, land use and cover near the well, soil texture and drainage, precipitation, and air temperature. 

The well list and site attributes, which were extracted from USGS National Water Information System (NWIS), represent the configuration of the New England well network up to the end of 2017.  The groundwater-level statistics included in the dataset represent hydrologic conditions for the period of record for discontinued wells, or through the end of water year 2017 (September 30, 2017) for active wells. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data layers were compiled from various sources and dates ranging from 1999 to 2018. These GIS data were used to calculate topographic setting, climate, land cover, soil, and geology attributes giving hydrologic and environmental context to each well.

The compiled information in the dataset may be used to evaluate redundancies or gaps in the present well network, with respect to the full range of attributes described above. The dataset may also be used for other regional hydrologic studies; for example, studies to estimate drought condition probabilities or evaluate effects of possible future climate conditions on groundwater levels.  The dataset is published as a USGS data release and can be accessed through the Publications tab associated with this project overview site.