Geohydrology of the Upper Sixmile Creek/West Branch Owego Creek Valleys and Lower Sixmile Creek/Willseyville Creek Valleys, Town of Caroline, Tompkins County, New York

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Problem - The Town of Caroline needs geohydrologic data in two major valley-fill aquifers within the town in order for planners to develop a strategy to manage and protect their water resources. Interest in the interaction between ground water and surface water has increased in recent years as a result of widespread concerns related to water supply. The need to better understand how the develop...

Problem - The Town of Caroline needs geohydrologic data in two major valley-fill aquifers within the town in order for planners to develop a strategy to manage and protect their water resources. Interest in the interaction between ground water and surface water has increased in recent years as a result of widespread concerns related to water supply. The need to better understand how the development of one water resource affects another will increase as development in Tompkins County intensifies. Upper Sixmile Creek/West Branch Owego Creeks valleys and Lower Sixmile Creek/Willseyville Creek valleys in the Town of Caroline were selected to be studied because they are undergoing increasing development; and most people in the Town of Caroline reside in the valleys and rely on wells that tap valley-fill sand and gravel aquifers for a source of water.

The objective of the proposed study is to improve the understanding of the geohydrology of the valley-fill sand and gravel aquifers in the Town of Caroline. Specifically, the study will provide the following information: (1) extent and thickness of geohydrologic units, (2) hydraulic conditions in the aquifers- whether the units are confined (artesian) or unconfined, (3) extent of ground water/surface-water interaction, (4) ground-water use (type and amount of ground-water withdrawal), (5) water levels in the geohydroloic units and the direction of ground-water flow, (6) identification of areas where there is little or no data, and (7) general water quality of aquifers.



Approach -  Geohydrologic data will be collected and maps will be compiled that depict the aquifer boundaries, geologic framework, recharge areas, potentiometric surface, and direction of ground-water flow in the aquifer(s). Text will describe general aquifer characteristics and ground-water and surface-water interactions. There are two major valleys within the Town of Caroline that contain significant aquifer systems--Upper Sixmile Creek/West Branch Owego Creek valleys and Lower Sixmile Creek/Willseyville Creek valleys. In the east-west trending Upper Sixmile Creek/West Branch Owego Creek valleys, the valley fill is thin-to-moderately thick and contains both unconfined and confined reaches of sand and gravel aquifers. In the north-south trending Lower Sixmile Creek/Willseyville Creek valleys, the valley fill deposits are moderate-to-very thick, and confined aquifers are prevalant.

In both valleys, the fieldwork entails 1) an inventory of wells 2) seismic-refraction surveys to determine the thickness of the valley-fill deposits and the configuration of the bedrock floor that underlies the valleys, 3) installation of two test wells in each study area, 4) ground-water-level measurements, and 5) installation of water-level data loggers in two or three wells finished in the various aquifer units.

In addition, water samples at several stream sites in Upper Sixmile Creek and West Branch Owego Creek basin will be collected during baseflow conditions (when flow in the stream is mostly from ground water) and analyzed for common ions and nutrients to determine the chemical characteristics of the ground-water contribution of streamflow. Water quality samples will also be collected from several wells in each study area. In the wells, water will be analyzed for common ions and nutrients to determine the general chemical characteristics of the ground-water and several selected wells chloroflourocarbon (CFC), tritium, and dissolved gases will be collected to determine the apparent age of ground water.

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Location by County

Tompkins County, NY