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Groundwater-Level Elevations in the Denver Basin Bedrock Aquifers of Elbert County, Colorado, 2015–18

April 18, 2019

Public and domestic water supplies in Elbert County, Colorado, rely on groundwater withdrawals from five bedrock aquifers in the Denver Basin aquifer system (lower Dawson, upper Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills) to meet water demands. Increased pumping in response to regional population growth and development has led to declining groundwater levels in neighboring Douglas County. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Elbert County Board of County Commissioners, began a study in 2015 to monitor groundwater levels within Elbert County. The purpose of this study is to report on groundwater levels measured between April 2015 and June 2018, and analyze trends and changes in groundwater-level elevations throughout the county.

Discrete groundwater levels were measured at 42 wells within Elbert County. Six of those wells contained equipment to make and record continuous groundwater-level measurements at hourly intervals. All five aquifers had wells with a rise in groundwater-level elevation and wells with a decline in groundwater-level elevation, based on a relative change in groundwater-level elevation between the April 2015 and April 2018 measurements. All aquifers except the upper Dawson had more wells with significant negative trends in discrete groundwater-level elevations than significant positive trends; however, at least one well within the upper Dawson, lower Dawson, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers had a significant positive trend. Wells screened in the lower Dawson aquifer consistently had the most significant negative trends, with an average trend of −1.96 feet per year (ft/year). The upper Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers had average trends of 0.03 ft/year, −1.04 ft/year, −0.46 ft/year, and −0.65 ft/year, respectively. Trends in continuous groundwater-level elevations were in agreement with significant trends in discrete groundwater-level elevations. Potentiometric-surface maps of the upper and lower Dawson aquifers for April 2015 and April 2018 show that differences in hydraulic head from the two measurement periods were greatest along the western part of Elbert County. Results of this study could guide future groundwater monitoring in the county and aid in long-term planning of water resources.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Groundwater-Level Elevations in the Denver Basin Bedrock Aquifers of Elbert County, Colorado, 2015–18
DOI 10.3133/sir20195014
Authors Colin A. Penn, Rhett R. Everett
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2019-5014
Index ID sir20195014
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Colorado Water Science Center