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Hydrogeologic framework of the Treasure Valley and surrounding area, Idaho and Oregon

December 31, 2019

Most of the population of the Treasure Valley and the surrounding area of southwestern Idaho and easternmost Oregon depends on groundwater for domestic supply, either from domestic or municipal-supply wells. As of 2017, 41 percent of Idaho’s population was concentrated in Idaho’s portion of the Treasure Valley, and current and projected rapid population growth in the area has caused concern about the long-term sustainability of the groundwater resource. In 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Idaho Water Resource Board and the Idaho Department of Water Resources, began a project to construct a numerical groundwater-flow model of the westernmost western Snake River Plain (WSRP) aquifer system. As part of this project, a three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework model (3D HFM) of the aquifer system was generated, primarily from lithologic data compiled from 291 well-driller reports.

Four major hydrogeologic units are shown in the 3D HFM: Coarse-grained fluvial and alluvial deposits, Pliocene-Pleistocene and Miocene basalts, fine-grained lacustrine deposits, and granitic and rhyolitic bedrock. Generally, the 3D HFM is in agreement with the geologic history of the WSRP and hydrogeologic frameworks developed by previous authors. The resolution (voxel size) of the 3D HFM is sufficient for the construction of a regional groundwater-flow model.

The major components of inflow (or recharge) to the WSRP aquifer system are seepage from irrigation canals, direct infiltration from precipitation and excess irrigation water, seepage from the Boise and Payette Rivers and Lake Lowell, and subsurface inflow from adjoining uplands. The major components of outflow (or discharge) from the aquifer system are discharge to surface water (rivers, agricultural drains, and streams), groundwater pumping, and direct evapotranspiration from groundwater.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Hydrogeologic framework of the Treasure Valley and surrounding area, Idaho and Oregon
DOI 10.3133/sir20195138
Authors James R. Bartolino
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2019-5138
Index ID sir20195138
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Idaho Water Science Center

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