thumbnail

Hydrogeology of the Little Spokane River Basin, Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille Counties, Washington

Scientific Investigations Report 2013-5124

Prepared in cooperation with Spokane County
By:
, , and

Links

Abstract

A study of the hydrogeologic framework of the Little Spokane River Basin was conducted to identify and describe the principal hydrogeologic units in the study area, their hydraulic characteristics, and general directions of groundwater movement. The Little Spokane River Basin includes an area of 679 square miles in northeastern Washington State covering parts of Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille Counties. The groundwater system consists of unconsolidated sedimentary deposits and isolated, remnant basalt layers overlying crystalline bedrock. In 1976, a water resources program for the Little Spokane River was adopted into rule by the State of Washington, setting instream flows for the river and closing its tributaries to further uses. Spokane County representatives are concerned about the effects that additional groundwater development within the basin might have on the Little Spokane River and on existing groundwater resources. Information provided by this study will be used in future investigations to evaluate the effects of potential increases in groundwater withdrawals on groundwater and surface-water resources in the basin. The hydrogeologic framework consists of eight hydrogeologic units: the Upper aquifer, Upper confining unit, Lower aquifers, Lower confining unit, Wanapum basalt unit, Latah unit, Grande Ronde basalt unit, and Bedrock. The Upper aquifer is composed mostly of sand and gravel and varies in thickness from 4 to 360 ft, with an average thickness of 70 ft. The aquifer is generally finer grained in areas farther from main outwash channels. The estimated horizontal hydraulic conductivity ranges from 4.4 to 410,000 feet per day (ft/d), with a median hydraulic conductivity of 900 ft/d. The Upper confining unit is a low-permeability unit consisting mostly of silt and clay, and varies in thickness from 5 to 400 ft, with an average thickness of 100 ft. The estimated horizontal hydraulic conductivity ranges from 0.5 to 5,600 ft/d, with a median hydraulic conductivity of 8.2 ft/d. The Lower aquifers unit consists of localized confined aquifers or lenses consisting mostly of sand that occur at depth in various places in the basin; thickness of the unit ranges from 8 to 150 ft, with an average thickness of 50 ft. The Lower confining unit is a low-permeability unit consisting mostly of silt and clay; thickness of the unit ranges from 35 to 310 ft, with an average thickness of 130 ft. The Wanapum basalt unit includes the Wanapum Basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group, thin sedimentary interbeds, and, in some places, overlying loess. The unit occurs as isolated remnants on the basalt bluffs in the study area and ranges in thickness from 7 to 140 ft, with an average thickness of 60 ft. The Latah unit is a mostly low-permeability unit consisting of silt, clay, and sand that underlies and is interbedded with the basalt units. The Latah unit ranges in thickness from 10 to 700 ft, with an average thickness of 250 ft. The estimated horizontal hydraulic conductivity ranges from 0.19 to 15 ft/d, with a median hydraulic conductivity of 0.56 ft/d. The Grande Ronde unit includes the Grande Ronde Basalt of the Columbia River Basalt Group and sedimentary interbeds. Unit thickness ranges from 30 to 260 ft, with an average thickness of 140 ft. The estimated horizontal hydraulic conductivity ranges from 0.03 to 13 ft/d, with a median hydraulic conductivity of 2.9 ft/d. The Bedrock unit is the only available source of groundwater where overlying sediments are absent or insufficiently saturated. The estimated horizontal hydraulic conductivity ranges from 0.01 to 5,000 ft/d, with a median hydraulic conductivity of 1.4 ft/d. The altitude of the buried bedrock surface ranges from about 2,200 ft to about 1,200 ft. Groundwater movement in the Little Spokane River Basin mimics the surface-water drainage pattern of the basin, moving from the topographically high tributary-basin areas toward the topographically lower valley floors. Water-level altitudes range from more than 2,700 ft to about 1,500 ft near the basin’s outlet.

Study Area

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeology of the Little Spokane River Basin, Spokane, Stevens, and Pend Oreille Counties, Washington
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
2013-5124
Year Published:
2013
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Washington Water Science Center
Description:
Pamphlet: vii, 51 p.; Map: 2 Sheets: 36 x 27 inches
Country:
United States
State:
Washington
County:
Spokane County;Stevens County;Pend Oreille County
Other Geospatial:
Little Spokane River Basin
Additional Online Files(Y/N):
Y