Geospatial Dataset of Wells and Attributes 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, the event highlighted the need for additional 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.

Active Wells in the New England groundwater level network, 2017

A map showing the locations of the active wells in the New England groundwater level network at the end of 2017. (Public domain.)

A dataset of well information and geospatial data was developed for 426 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) observation wells in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. An extensive list of attributes is included about each well, its location, and water-level history to provide the public and water-resources community with comprehensive information on USGS wells in New England and water-level data available from these sites. These data may be useful for evaluating groundwater conditions and variability across the region as well as other hydrogeologic studies.
The well list and site attributes, which were extracted from USGS National Water Information System (NWIS), represent the wells in the New England that were active (at least one water-level measurement during the previous year) in 2017, and an additional 45 wells that were inactive (discontinued or replaced by a nearby well) at that time. Inactive wells were included in the database because they (1) may contain relatively long periods of water-level record that may be useful for groundwater assessments, (2) may become active again at some point, or (3) are being monitored by another agency (most discontinued New Hampshire wells are still being monitored and the data are available in the National Groundwater Monitoring Network ( The dataset includes 87 continuous, 43 discontinued, 166 discrete, 95 intermittent, and 35 replaced wells. Of the replaced wells, 33 were active as of the end of 2017 and 2 were discontinued.  Overall, there are 45 discontinued wells and 381 active wells in the dataset.  A group of wells, mainly on Cape Cod, that did not have recent water-level measurements as of 2017 are not included in this dataset.

The wells in this database have been sites of water-level data collection (periodic levels and/or continuous levels) for an average of 31 years. Water-level records for these wells go back to 1913. The groundwater-level statistics included in the database represent hydrologic conditions for the period of record for inactive wells, or through the end of water year 2017 (September 30, 2017) for the active wells.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data layers were compiled from various sources and dates ranging from 2003 to 2018. These GIS data were used to calculate attributes related to topographic setting, climate, land cover, soil, and geology giving hydrologic and environmental context to each well. In total, the data include 90 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 (11 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. Attributes that may influence groundwater levels include: well depth, location of open or screened interval, aquifer type, surficial and bedrock geology, topographic position, flow distance to surface water, land use and cover near the well, soil texture and drainage, precipitation, and air temperature.

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 (Hayes, L., Chalmers, A.T., Mullaney, J.R., and Barbaro, J.R., 2019, Geospatial Dataset of Wells and Attributes in the New England Groundwater Level Network, 2017 (v. 1.1, December 2019): U.S. Geological Survey data release, and can be accessed through the Data and Tools tab associated with this project overview web site.