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Hydrogeologic framework, groundwater movement, and water budget in the Chambers-Clover Creek watershed and vicinity, Pierce County, Washington

March 27, 2010

This report presents information used to characterize the groundwater-flow system in the Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed and vicinity, and includes descriptions of the geology and hydrogeologic framework; groundwater recharge and discharge; groundwater levels and flow directions; seasonal groundwater level fluctuations; interactions between aquifers and the surface-water system; and a water budget. The study area covers about 706 square miles in western Pierce County, Washington, and extends north to the Puyallup River, southwest to the Nisqually River, and is bounded on the south and east by foothills of the Cascade Range and on the west by Puget Sound. The area is underlain by a northwest-thickening sequence of unconsolidated glacial and interglacial deposits which overlie sedimentary and volcanic bedrock units that crop out in the foothills along the southern and southeastern margin of the study area. Geologic units were grouped into 11 hydrogeologic units consisting of aquifers, confining units, and an underlying bedrock unit. A surficial hydrogeologic unit map was developed and used with well information from 450 drillers’ logs to construct 6 hydrogeologic sections, and unit extent and thickness maps.

Groundwater in unconsolidated glacial and interglacial aquifers generally flows to the northwest towards Puget Sound, and to the north and northeast towards the Puyallup River. These generalized flow patterns likely are complicated by the presence of low permeability confining units that separate discontinuous bodies of aquifer material and act as local groundwater-flow barriers. Water levels in wells completed in the unconsolidated hydrogeologic units show seasonal variations ranging from less than 1 to about 50 feet. The largest groundwater-level fluctuation (78 feet) observed during the monitoring period (March 2007–September 2008) was in a well completed in the bedrock unit.

Synoptic streamflow measurements made in September 2007 and July 2008 indicated a total groundwater discharge to streams in the study area of 87,310 and 92,160 acre-feet per year, respectively. The synoptic streamflow measurements show a complex pattern of gains and losses to streamflows that varies throughout the study area, and appears to be influenced in places by local topography. Groundwater discharge occurs at numerous springs in the area and the total previously reported discharge of springs in the area is approximately 80,000 acre-feet per year. There are, in addition, many unmeasured springs and the total spring discharge in the area is unknown.

The water-budget area (432 mi2 located within the larger study area) received an annual average (September1, 2006, to August 31, 2008) of about 1,025,000 acre-ft or about 45 inches of precipitation a year. About 44 percent of precipitation enters the groundwater system as recharge. Almost one-half of this recharge (49 percent) discharges to the Puyallup and Nisqually Rivers and leaves the groundwater system as submarine groundwater discharge to Puget Sound. The remaining groundwater recharge discharges to streams (20 percent) and springs (18 percent) or is withdrawn from wells (13 percent)

Publication Year 2010
Title Hydrogeologic framework, groundwater movement, and water budget in the Chambers-Clover Creek watershed and vicinity, Pierce County, Washington
DOI 10.3133/sir20105055
Authors Mark E. Savoca, Wendy B. Welch, Kenneth H. Johnson, R. C. Lane, Burt G. Clothier, Elisabeth T. Fasser
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5055
Index ID sir20105055
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Washington Water Science Center