Washington Water Science Center

Water Availability and Use

WAWSC scientists provide data and tools to State, Local, Tribal and Federal water managers to assist them in best allocating groundwater supplies while also meeting both instream and out-of-stream demands. We characterize local- to regional-scale aquifer systems, measure basin water budgets and interactions between groundwater and surface water, and develop numerical models to understand how extensively-managed hydrologic systems respond to changes. Issues being addressed include predicting the effects of alternative water-resource management strategies, conjunctive groundwater and surface-water uses, climate change, and growing water demands. We also are working to understand how these changes may affect saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers, and discharge of groundwater into stream, wetland, and estuarine habitats.

Filter Total Items: 59
Date published: October 13, 2021
Status: Active

Aquifer Recharge Area Study of Guemes Island

The Issue: Guemes Island is an 8.2-square-mile island in the northern part of Puget Sound in western Washington State. The population of the island is increasing, as is the demand for groundwater, which is the island's sole source of freshwater. Continued growth and development of the island, particularly in nearshore areas, has led to the increasing failure of nearshore wells...

Contacts: Leland Fuhrig
Date published: May 19, 2021
Status: Active

Drought preparedness in Mt. Rainier National Park

The Issue: Water supply for park operations and backcountry users is determined by the spatial extent of perennial streams in Mount Rainier National Park (MORA). In addition, the presence or absence of streamflow (flow permanence) is related to water temperature, which influences the occurrence and distribution of aquatic species including cold-water fishes and insects. Information about the...

Date published: April 8, 2020
Status: Completed

Hydrochemical Analysis of Groundwater in Jewel Cave National Monument

The Issue: The park’s landscape and geomorphology is characterized as a carbonate karst environment, with sinking streams and fast connections between surface water and groundwater, resulting in high vulnerability of contamination to groundwater. Now that subterranean lakes have been discovered in Jewel Cave, understanding the groundwater connection of the lakes therein to the...

Contacts: Andrew J Long
Date published: April 7, 2020
Status: Active

Assess the utility of a regional aquifer system groundwater model to inform the USGS National Hydrologic Model

The Issue: In Washington State, groundwater (GW) inflow to streams, or baseflow, is essential for maintaining aquatic habitats, and for out-of-stream uses such as irrigated agriculture during the typically dry summers. However, the National Hydrologic Model (NHM) currently is most suited to predicting total daily streamflow. 

This project aims to assess the NHM’s...

Contacts: Andrew J Long
Date published: February 28, 2020
Status: Active

Walla Walla Groundwater

The Issue: Within the states of Washington and Oregon, the 1,777 mi2 Walla Walla River Basin (WWRB) is a complex hydrogeologic system with long-term water-level declines in regional aquifers and insufficient instream flows required for threatened and culturally important fish populations. The public and state resource management agencies need an improved...

Date published: May 8, 2019
Status: Active

Southeast Sound Groundwater Flow Model

The Issue: Groundwater is an important resource for domestic, commercial, and industrial usage in the Puyallup River and Chambers-Clover Creek Watersheds, and groundwater discharge helps maintain late-summer and early-fall streamflow (baseflow) in many area streams. Consequently, as the population grows, and commercial and industrial activity increase, so does the demand for...

Date published: March 4, 2019
Status: Active

Puget Sound Groundwater Low Flows Near Term Action Project

The Issue: Groundwater discharge to streams and rivers in the Puget Sound basin is the primary source of water for sustaining summer low flows. A robust understanding of how anthropogenic and natural stressors affect summer low flows across the entire Puget Sound Regional Aquifer System is lacking, and USGS has tools and data—including current water-use data and subbasin-scale...

Date published: March 8, 2018
Status: Completed

Chambers-Clover Model

The Issue: In 1998, to address diminishing water availability and quality and the loss of critical habitat for fish and wildlife, Washington State enacted the Watershed Management Act. Under this Act, in the process of watershed planning for the Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed in Pierce County, Planning Unit members and partners uncovered gaps in data that would limit the...

Contacts: Wendy Welch
Date published: January 29, 2018
Status: Completed

Characterization and Numerical Simulation of the Puyallup River Watershed

Groundwater is an important resource for domestic, commercial, and industrial usage in the Puyallup River Watershed, and groundwater discharge helps maintain late-summer and early-fall streamflow (baseflow) in many area streams. Consequently, as the population grows, and commercial and industrial activity increase, so does the demand for groundwater. However, the quantity of usable groundwater...

Date published: January 26, 2018
Status: Active

Quincy Groundwater

The Issue: Since 1952, water diverted from the Columbia River for irrigation in parts of the Quincy Subarea in eastern Washington has resulted in rising groundwater levels and increased groundwater flows and storage. Managers of groundwater in the area need a better understanding of the flow system before and after the start of irrigation.

How the USGS will help...

Contacts: Sue Kahle
Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Water use

The Issue: Comprehensive water-use data and analysis of water-use information are needed to quantify the stress on existing supplies and to better model and evaluate possible water-supply management options to supplement traditional water-supply approaches. Advances have been made in the ability to control, divert, and develop water, but little attention has been paid to...

Date published: September 21, 2017
Status: Completed

RRAWFLOW: Rainfall-Response Aquifer and Watershed Flow Model

RRAWFLOW: Rainfall-Response Aquifer and Watershed Flow Model

Contacts: Andrew J Long