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Summary of U.S. Geological Survey studies conducted in cooperation with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, central Oklahoma, 2011–14

January 19, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey conducted hydrologic studies and published three U.S. Geological Survey scientific investigations reports in cooperation with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation from 2011 to 2014 to characterize the quality and quantity of water resources. The study areas of those reports consisted of approximately 960 square miles in parts of three counties in central Oklahoma. This study area has multiple abundant sources of water, being underlain by three principal aquifers (alluvial/terrace, Central Oklahoma, and Vamoosa-Ada), being bordered by two major rivers (North Canadian and Canadian), and having several smaller drainages including the Little River in the central part of the study area and Salt Creek in the southeastern part of the study area. The Central Oklahoma aquifer (also referred to as the “Garber-Wellington aquifer”) underlies approximately 3,000 square miles in central Oklahoma in parts of Cleveland, Logan, Lincoln, Oklahoma, and Pottawatomie Counties and much of the study area. Water from these aquifers is used for municipal, industrial, commercial, agricultural, and domestic supplies.

Much of the water in the study area is of good quality; however, in some parts of this area water quality was impaired by very hard surface water and groundwater, large chloride concentrations in some smaller streams, relatively large concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients and large counts of fecal-indicator bacteria in the North Canadian River, and uranium concentrations that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level of 30 micrograms per liter for public water supplies in water samples collected from a small number of wells. Most stream-water samples collected from the Little River by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012–13 had dissolved solids concentrations exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level for public water supplies of 500 milligrams per liter. Larger numbers of organic compounds were measured in water samples collected from the North Canadian River than the Little River.

Numerical groundwater-flow models were created to characterize flow systems in aquifers underlying this study area and areas of particular interest within the study area. Those models were used to estimate sustainable groundwater yields from parts of the North Canadian River alluvial aquifer, characterize groundwater/surface-water interactions, and estimate the effects of a 10-year simulated drought on streamflows and water levels in alluvial and bedrock aquifers. Pumping of wells at the Iron Horse Industrial Park was estimated to cause negligible infiltration of water from the adjoining North Canadian River. A 10-year simulated drought of 50 percent of normal recharge was tested for the period 1990–2000. For this period, the total amount of groundwater in storage was estimated to decrease by 8.6 percent in the North Canadian River alluvial aquifer and approximately 0.2 percent in the Central Oklahoma aquifer, and groundwater flow to streams was estimated to decrease by 28–37 percent. This volume of groundwater loss showed that the Central Oklahoma aquifer is a bedrock aquifer that has relatively low rates of recharge from the land surface. The simulated drought decreased simulated streamflow, composed of base flow, in the North Canadian River at Shawnee, Okla., which did not recover to predrought conditions until the relatively wet year of 2007 after the simulated drought period.

Publication Year 2016
Title Summary of U.S. Geological Survey studies conducted in cooperation with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, central Oklahoma, 2011–14
DOI 10.3133/sir20155182
Authors William J. Andrews, Carol Becker, Derek W. Ryter, S. Jerrod Smith
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2015-5182
Index ID sir20155182
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Oklahoma Water Science Center