Synopsis of ground-water and surface-water resources of North Dakota

Open-File Report 84-732

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This report describes the surface- and ground-water resources of North Dakota and the limitations of our understanding of these resources. Ground water and surface water are actually one resource, because they are often hydraulically interconnected. They are discussed separately for convenience. In general, the surface-water resources of the mainstem of the Missouri river are abundant and suitable for most uses. Other rivers may be important locally as water-supply sources, but the quantities of flow are small, quite variable in time, and generally of an unsuitable quality for most uses. Streamflow characteristics of North Dakota reflect its arid to semiarid climate (annual precipitation varies from 13 to 20 inches from west to east across the State), cold winters (usually including a significant snowpack available for spring snowmelt runoff), and the seasonal distribution of annual precipitation (almost 50 percent falls from Nky to July).

Significant volumes of shallow ground water, of variable quality are found in the glacial-drift aquifers in parts of central, northern, and eastern North Dakota. Existing information provides only a limited capability to assess the long-term reliability of these scattered aquifers. There are significant indications, however, of water-quality problems related to sustained production of wells if long-term utilization of these aquifers is planned. A summary of the general suitability for use of surface water and ground water is given in Table E1.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Synopsis of ground-water and surface-water resources of North Dakota
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Dakota Water Science Center, North Dakota Water Science Center
xi, 127 p.