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News Release

U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey

Release: April 10, 2008
John J. Vaccaro

John Clemens

New Maps Show Yakima Basin Aquifers

[Note: The report can be viewed on the Web at]

New maps showing the complex, highly productive basalt aquifers in the Yakima River Basin are contained in a report published today by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The basalt aquifers are important sources of water for irrigation, public supply, residential, and livestock uses in the basin.

Produced in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, the Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Yakama Nation, the report’s five maps show the depth to the top of three basalt aquifers, referred to in the report as hydrogeologic units, and the two interbeds separating them. It is the seventh in a series of reports from a USGS cooperative study of the ground-water resources of the Yakima River Basin.

Scientists mapped the extent and depth to the top of basalt using multiple data sources. The maps should prove useful to both water managers and water users for identifying typical depths of drilling that may be expected to penetrate a particular hydrogeologic unit. The hydrogeologic unit that existing basalt wells withdraw from also can be estimated using these maps.

"These maps provide an improved understanding of the shape and extent of important hydrogeologic units in the basin," said John Vaccaro, USGS hydrologist and project chief. "We will use the information from the maps in a regional computer model we are building so that resource managers can better understand the ground-water flow system of the Yakima River Basin and can test the effects of water management strategies."

The report, "Extent and depth to the top of basalt and interbed hydrogeologic units, Yakima River Basin aquifer system, Washington" by M.A. Jones and J.J. Vaccaro, is published as U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5045. The report can be viewed on the Web at Printed copies will be available for purchase in May from the U.S. Geological Survey, Information Services, Box 25286, Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225-0286, telephone 303-202-4200.

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