What determines if a well will go dry?

A well is said to have gone dry when water levels drop below a pump intake. This does not mean that a dry well will never have water in it again, as the water level may come back through time as recharge increases. The water level in a well depends on a number of things, such as the depth of the well, the type (confined or unconfined) of aquifer the well taps, the amount of pumping that occurs in this aquifer, and the amount of recharge occurring. Wells screened in unconfined water table aquifers are more directly influenced by the lack of rain than those screened in deeper confined aquifers. A deep well in a confined aquifer in an area with minimal pumping is less likely to go dry than a shallow, water-table well.

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How can I find the depth to the water table in a specific location?

The depth to the water table can change (rise or fall) depending on the time of year. During the late winter and spring when accumulated snow starts to melt and spring rainfall is plentiful, water on the surface infiltrates into the ground and the water table rises. When water-loving plants start to grow again in the spring and precipitation gives...

What is the Ground Water Atlas of the United States?

This Ground Water Atlas of the United States is a series of USGS publications that describe the location, the extent, and the geologic and hydrologic characteristics of the important aquifers of the Nation. The series consists of 13 chapters that describe the regional groundwater resources that collectively cover 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the U...

How important is groundwater?

Groundwater, which is in aquifers below the surface of the Earth, is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. Groundwater is the source of about 37 percent of the water that county and city water departments supply to households and businesses (public supply). It provides drinking water for more than 90 percent of the rural population...

What is groundwater?

Groundwater is water that exists underground in saturated zones beneath the land surface. The upper surface of the saturated zone is called the water table. Contrary to popular belief, groundwater does not form underground rivers. It fills the pores and fractures in underground materials such as sand, gravel, and other rock, much the same way that...
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Date published: March 9, 2017

How Well Do You Know Groundwater

Groundwater, which flows out of sight through aquifers beneath our feet, is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources. In recognition of National Groundwater Awareness Week, March 5–11, 2017, here’s an opportunity to put your knowledge of this vital resource to the test!

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: December 14, 2016

How Much Water Do We Use?

The USGS National Water-Use Science project has documented 60 years of water-use from 1950 to 2010 in an interactive map.  Choose a year and pick a category to see how much water your state uses. 

Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: October 11, 2016

Large Precipitation Events are Critical in Replenishing Groundwater Resources

Large precipitation events that occur about every 10 years are a critical source of recharge for replenishing groundwater resources, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Date published: October 6, 2015

Unprecedented Drought in the West

Drought has left the West parched and thirsty. Families, businesses, and farmers all need water, as do fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

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Flowing artesian well in Brunswick, Georgia, USA
October 7, 2019

Flowing artesian well in Brunswick, Georgia, USA

Groundwater in aquifers between layers of poorly permeable rock, such as clay or shale, may be confined under pressure. If such a confined aquifer is tapped by a well, water will rise above the top of the aquifer and may even flow from the well onto the

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Flowing groundwater site in Indiana
March 16, 2017

Flowing groundwater site in Indiana

Flowing groundwater site in Indiana

Ground Water Well
February 10, 2017

Ground Water Well

Gary Speiran (USGS) and Fred Wurster (USFWS) install a ground water well to measure water table levels and carbon movement in the water.  Photograph credit: Nicole Cormier, USGS

Flowing well used for stock water, Green River Basin
July 10, 2014

Flowing well used for stock water, Green River Basin

Flowing well used for stock water, Green River Basin

September 22, 2011

PubTalk 9/2011 — Tracking the Nation's Groundwater Reserves

--issues facing current and future water supplies

by William Alley, USGS Office of Groundwater

 

  • Ground water is among the Nation's most important natural resources, providing half of our drinking water as well as being essential to agriculture and industry, and the health of ecosystems throughout the country
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USGS
July 28, 2010

Well, Well, Well! How Deep is the Water Table?

This month we highlight a new interactive map that allows users to determine the depth to groundwater at any location in the Portland Metropolitan Area, Oregon. This month's episode features an interview with the groundwater project's lead author, USGS hydrologist Daniel Snyder. Stick around and learn about the water beneath our feet here at the USGS Oregon Science Podcast

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Water Well
December 31, 2009

Water Well

Irrigation well in northeastern Arkansas (U.S. Geological Survey photograph by Terrance W. Holland, 2009).