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Sue Kahle,
Hydrologist,
934 Broadway,
Suite 300
Tacoma, WA 98402

(sckahle@usgs.gov)
(253) 552-1616
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Colville River Basin

Project Summaries

  
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9722-A4K - Water Resources of the Unconsolidated Ground-Water System of the Colville River Basin, Stevens County, Washington - Completed FY2004

Problem - The Colville River Basin is a 1,007-square-mile area located mostly in Stevens County, northeastern Washington (fig. 1). Increased use of ground- and surface-water supplies in watersheds of Washington State has created concern that insufficient instream flows remain for fish and other uses. The Washington State legislature passed the Watershed Management Act of 1998 (HB 2514), which encourages and provides some funding for local watershed planning and delegates the planning to a local level. As part of this planning, stakeholders within a Water Resources Inventory Area (WRIA) need to assess the status of water resources in the WRIA and determine if there is water available for allocation within the WRIA.

Objectives - This proposal describes a water-resources analysis of the Colville River Basin to be conducted in two phases. The objectives of Phase 1 are to map the extent and thickness of aquifers and confining units in the unconsolidated ground-water system; make a preliminary determination of how the shallow and deeper parts of the ground-water system interact with each other and the surface-water system; estimate water budgets for the entire basin and selected subbasins; and evaluate the need for additional data for Phase 2. The objectives of Phase 2 are to collect additional data that may be needed to calibrate a ground-water flow model for the study area; and estimate the effects of different ground-water use scenarios on both the ground-water and surface-water systems, using the calibrated ground-water flow model.

Relevance and Benefits - An important part of the USGS mission is to provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation, and to enhance and protect our quality of life. As part of its efforts to effectively assess the Nation's ground-water and surface-water resources, the USGS collects basic data related to ground- and surface-water quantity, quality, and aquatic ecosystems. This and other information is used to understand and quantify how hydrologic systems respond to land-use, water-use, and climatic changes. The understanding of the hydrologic-system response is used by watershed managers to design water-supply and land management options that optimize the quantity and quality of water resources for both people and the environment. An assessment of the hydrogeologic framework of the valley-fill deposits of the Colville River Basin and estimated water budgets will provide managers with critical information for water-resource planning within the watershed.

Approach - Phase 1: Delineate the hydrogeologic framework of the sedimentary valley-fill deposits of the Colville River Basin; identify patterns of ground-water movement in the valley-fill deposits of the Colville River Basin; perform two sets of synoptic streamflow measurements throughout the basin and estimate long-term average monthly water budgets for the entire Colville River Basin and selected subbasins; evaluate the need for additional data to better delineate the unconsolidated ground-water system during Phase 2; collect additional data, if needed as determined during Phase 1; and estimate the effects of different ground-water use scenarios on both the ground-water and surface-water systems.

Phase 2: Collect additional data, if needed as determined during Phase 1, and estimate the effects of different ground-water use scenarios on both the ground-water and surface-water systems.

9722-A4O - Numerical Simulation of the Ground-Water Flow System of the Colville River Basin, Stevens County, Washington - Completed FY2004

Problem - In recent years, increased use of ground- and surface-water supplies in watersheds of Washington State has created concern that insufficient instream flows remain for fish and other uses. The Stevens County Conservation District and the Colville River Watershed Planning Unit are working to develop a long-range sustainable watershed plan to meet the needs of current and future water demands within the watershed, while also working to protect and improve its natural resources. The ground-water flow system is not understood well enough on a watershed scale to effectively plan and manage the use of this resource.

Objectives - The broad objective of this study is to develop a better understanding of the ground-water flow system of the Colville River Basin in order to effectively manage the water resources. To achieve this objective, a regional ground-water flow model of the unconsolidated deposits will be constructed and used to simulate different ground-water use scenarios.

Relevance and Benefits - An important part of the USGS mission is to provide scientific information to manage the water resources of the Nation, and to enhance and protect our quality of life. As part of its efforts to effectively assess the Nation's ground-water and surface-water resources, the USGS collects basic data related to ground- and surface-water quantity, quality, and aquatic ecosystems. This and other information is used to understand and quantify how hydrologic systems respond to land-use, water-use, and climatic changes. By understanding the hydrologic-system, watershed managers can design water-supply and land management options that optimize the quantity and quality of water resources for both people and nature. In this project, the USGS will construct and calibrate a ground-water flow model to investigate the ground-water resources of the Colville River Basin. This proposal complements a current USGS project, which together will provide managers with tools to better manage the current and long-term water resources in the watershed. Evaluating the regional effects of different ground-water use scenarios provides managers with critical information for water-resource planning within the watershed.

Approach - The specific tasks needed to complete the project objectives are:

  1. Review aquifer test and specific capacity data to determine hydraulic conductivity, storativity, and transmissivity.
  2. Construct and calibrate a regional ground-water flow model of the unconsolidated deposits using MODFLOW-2000.
  3. Determine the regional impacts on ground-water levels and surface-water discharge for different ground-water use scenarios.

WA373 - Department of the Interior (DOI) Irrigation Drainage Reconnaissance Study of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project - Completed FY1995

Problem - The study area is the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project (CBIP), a multi-purpose development of about 4,000 square miles on the Columbia Plateau of east-central Washington. Irrigation is the most significant consumptive use of water in the project area, and agriculture is the most significant use or cover of the land, excluding the scablands. In addition to irrigation, there are three uses of the water and associated facilities of the CBIP. They are flood-control, power generation, and support and management of fish and wildlife and other water-recreation activities. The water-quality studies that have been conducted in the project area not only are few in number, but also are limited in extent. None of the studies conducted to date has traced changes in trace elements, pesticides, and other water-quality parameters as the irrigation water moves from the source through the irrigation system. No study has traced parameters over time to determine the effects of pesticide applications or effects of concentration and dilution by irrigation water. No study has determined how water-quality changes after it has been reused for irrigation several times. The area is dynamic and remains one of significant contamination potential because of chemical applications to crops, the long-term increasing salting effects caused by concentrating dissolved salts, rising ground-water levels, and future expansion into irrigable but currently unirrigated and partially irrigated lands.

Objectives - The objective of this study is to conduct a reconnaissance-type investigation of the water, sediment, biota, and other water-related aspects of the CBIP area. The changes in quality of water and water-associated biota that occur in the irrigation water will be studied as it moves from Billy Clapp Lake through the irrigation system and returns to the Columbia River on the west and south ends of the study area. In some cases, sampling sites have been selected to represent the worst-case scenario. Samples will be taken to cover pre-, post-, and mid-irrigation periods.

Approach - Twenty-one stream and lake sites have been selected where water, bottom sediment, and biota samples will be collected. These sites were selected to represent unused water, reused water, stored water, intransit waste water, and final-discharge waste water. Field measurements that will be made at each of these sites and each of the three sampling times will include specific conductance, pH, dissolved oxygen, and alkalinity.

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