Harney Basin Groundwater Study

Science Center Objects

This study will characterize and quantify the groundwater system in the Harney Basin to address gaps in our present understanding.

The demand for groundwater in the Harney Basin, southwestern Oregon, is increasing. Water uses include domestic, irrigated agriculture, livestock, and fish and wildlife needs. The groundwater-flow system in the Harney Basin is poorly understood, and the ability of the resource to sustain existing uses and to accommodate additional development is not well known. In addition, substantial uncertainty exists regarding the extent to which groundwater development will impact surface-water resources and holders of senior surface-water rights throughout the basin. An improved understanding of the groundwater hydrology of the area is needed to provide stakeholders and water resource managers with information to make informed groundwater-resource decisions. This study will characterize and quantify the groundwater-flow system in the basin to address gaps in our present understanding. The study includes determining the rates and distribution of groundwater recharge and discharge throughout the region, characterizing the geologic controls on groundwater flow, and identifying major hydrogeologic units. The study includes the development of a numerical groundwater-flow model to assess the conceptualization of the flow system and to provide a tool to for estimating effects of proposed development scenarios on groundwater levels and surface-water depletion in the basin.