Simulation analysis of the ground-water flow system in the Portland Basin, Oregon and Washington

Open-File Report 94-505




A numerical model of the ground-water flow-system in the Portland Basin, Oregon and Washington, was used to test and refine the conceptual understanding of the flow system and estimate the effects of past and future human-caused changes to the ground-water system. Recharge to the basin in 1987-88 consisted primarily of 1,440 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) from direct infiltration of precipitation, but was augmented in unsewered urban areas by 62 ft3/s from runoff to drywells and 27 ft3/s from on-site waste disposal systems. Forty-nine percent of the recharge in the basin infiltrates through the Troutdale gravel aquifer and 22 percent through the unconsoli- dated sedimentary aquifer. The unconsolidated sedimentary aquifer and Troutdale gravel aquifer supplied 85 percent of 1987-88 pumpage. Recharge under pre-development conditions was 180 ft3/s (12 percent) more than in 1987-88 owing to the lack of impervious surfaces associated with urbanization. Simulation of the effects of the increased recharge and no well discharge indicates that water levels could have declined as much as 50 feet within the Troutdale gravel in southern Clark County in response to municipal pumping. The combination of reduced recharge and increased pumpage could have reduced discharge to large rivers by 25 percent, and discharge to small rivers and streams by 16 percent, since pre-development conditions. One hypothetical condition for future ground-water development was simulated to test the effects of additional pumping stress on the ground-water system. Pumpage estimates in this condition were based on projected municipal supply demands in Clark County through the year 2010 and on limited use of the City of Portland Columbia South Shore well-field. The hypothetical pumpage was 55 percent (92 ft3/s) greater than 1987-88 pumpage. Equilibrium water-level declines were as much as 20-40 ft in the Troutdale gravel aquifer in Clark County and in the Troutdale sandstone aquifer underlying the Columbia South Shore well-field. At equilibrium, much of the additional pumpage was supplied by capture of discharge to the Columbia River (14 ft3/s) and by additional recharge induced from the Columbia River (26 ft3/s).

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation analysis of the ground-water flow system in the Portland Basin, Oregon and Washington
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Superseded by WSP 2470-B
Year Published:
Geological Survey (U.S.)
Contributing office(s):
U.S. Geological Survey
vi, 85 p.