Analysis of Groundwater Response to Tidal Fluctuations, Operable Unit 1, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington

Open-File Report 2019-1098
Prepared in cooperation with the Department of the Navy, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest
By:  and 



Chlorinated volatile organic compounds have affected groundwater beneath a former 9-acre landfill at Operable Unit 1 (OU 1) of Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Keyport, in Keyport, Washington. The landfill was the primary disposal area for domestic and industrial waste generated by NBK Keyport from the 1930s through 1973. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Northwest, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Suquamish Tribe, is charged with collecting necessary data to monitor the contamination left in place and to ensure that the site does not pose a risk to human health or the environment.

To support these efforts, refined information was collected on how groundwater levels throughout OU 1 respond to tidal fluctuations at this nearshore site adjacent to Liberty Bay, an inlet of Puget Sound. The information was analyzed to determine the optimal times during the semidiurnal and the neap-spring tidal cycles to sample groundwater for contaminants associated with fresh groundwater originating from OU 1. The optimal times for sampling are presumed to be when fresh groundwater flowing seaward is least impeded by elevated tides, and those times are related to predicted tide levels by tidal lags, the durations between low tides, and corresponding low groundwater levels. Discrete groundwater-specific conductance data also were collected to determine if a seawater/freshwater interface was present at any of the monitoring wells, and to inform decisions on the depth at which groundwater should be sampled in existing wells.

Groundwater and surface-water levels were monitored at 19 monitoring wells and five adjacent surface-water sites. Specific conductance was monitored in each surface-water site. All time-series data parameters were collected every 15 minutes during a 4-week duration to measure how nearshore groundwater responds to tidal forcing. Time-series data were collected from July 12, 2018, to August 8, 2018, a period that included neap and spring tides. Vertical water-quality profiles were measured once in the screened interval of nine selected monitoring wells. The profiles included measurements at the top, middle, and bottom of each saturated screen interval.

Tidal lag times were determined relative to tidal levels in Liberty Bay (rather than in the more nearby Tide Flats) because the predicted tides for the Poulsbo, Washington Station (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA] Station 9445719) that are used to schedule groundwater sampling represent open-water conditions in the area; a sill that separates Dogfish Bay from the Tide Flats clearly affects the timing and magnitude of low-low tides in the Tide Flats. Calculated tidal lag times were divided into three general groups: (1) wells where groundwater responded to tidal level changes immediately, (2) wells where groundwater responded to tidal level changes within about 2–5 hours, and (3) wells where groundwater had minimal response to tidal level changes. Groundwater levels in the middle group of wells primarily responded in concert with tidal level changes in the Tide Flats rather than tidal level changes in Liberty Bay.

An intended sampling depth refinement based on an assessment of transient seawater intrusion was not completed because of a failure to collect specific-conductance time-series data in select wells. Instead, discrete specific-conductance data from this and prior studies were evaluated to determine that the midpoint of well screens in OU 1 wells can be assumed to be a reasonably representative of undiluted groundwater. When sampling during spring (rather than neap) tides (as has generally been the standard practice at OU 1), the optimal time to sample the monitoring wells influenced by tides would be to add the tidal lags presented in this report to the time of the predicted low-low tide for Liberty Bay as measured at NOAA Station 9445719 at Poulsbo, Washington. Sampling schedules for the six wells where groundwater levels were only minimally influenced by tide changes should not be constrained by tidal conditions.

Suggested Citation

Opatz, C.C., and Dinicola, R.S., 2019, Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Operable Unit 1, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1098, 36 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Field Data Collection
  • Results and Discussion
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Analysis of groundwater response to tidal fluctuations, Operable Unit 1, Naval Base Kitsap, Keyport, Washington
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1098
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191098
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Washington Water Science Center
Description vi, 36 p.
Country United States
State Washington
City Keyport
Other Geospatial Naval Base Kitsap
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details