Reliable information on the configuration of the water table in the Portland metropolitan area is needed to address concerns about various water-resource issues, especially with regard to potential effects from stormwater injection systems such as UIC (underground injection control) systems that are either existing or planned. To help address these concerns, this report presents the estimated depth-to-water and water-table elevation maps for the Portland area, along with estimates of the relative uncertainty of the maps and seasonal water-table fluctuations.
The method of analysis used to determine the water-table configuration in the Portland area relied on water-level data from shallow wells and surface-water features that are representative of the water table. However, the largest source of available well data is water-level measurements in reports filed by well constructors at the time of new well installation, but these data frequently were not representative of static water-level conditions. Depth-to-water measurements reported in well-construction records generally were shallower than measurements by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in the same or nearby wells, although many depth-to-water measurements were substantially deeper than USGS measurements. Magnitudes of differences in depth-to-water measurements reported in well records and those measured by the USGS in the same or nearby wells ranged from -119 to 156 feet with a mean of the absolute value of the differences of 36 feet. One possible cause for the differences is that water levels in many wells reported in well records were not at equilibrium at the time of measurement. As a result, the analysis of the water-table configuration relied on water levels measured during the current study or used in previous USGS investigations in the Portland area. Because of the scarcity of well data in some areas, the locations of select surface-water features including major rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, and springs representative of where the water table is at land surface were used to augment the analysis.
Ground-water and surface-water data were combined for use in interpolation of the water-table configuration. Interpolation of the two representations typically used to define water-table position - depth to the water table below land surface and elevation of the water table above a datum - can produce substantially different results and may represent the end members of a spectrum of possible interpolations largely determined by the quantity of recharge and the hydraulic properties of the aquifer. Datasets of depth-to-water and water-table elevation for the current study were interpolated independently based on kriging as the method of interpolation with parameters determined through the use of semivariograms developed individually for each dataset. Resulting interpolations were then combined to create a single, averaged representation of the water-table configuration. Kriging analysis also was used to develop a map of relative uncertainty associated with the values of the water-table position.
Accuracy of the depth-to-water and water-table elevation maps is dependent on various factors and assumptions pertaining to the data, the method of interpolation, and the hydrogeologic conditions of the surficial aquifers in the study area. Although the water-table configuration maps generally are representative of the conditions in the study area, the actual position of the water-table may differ from the estimated position at site-specific locations, and short-term, seasonal, and long-term variations in the differences also can be expected. The relative uncertainty map addresses some but not all possible errors associated with the analysis of the water-table configuration and does not depict all sources of uncertainty.
Depth to water greater than 300 feet in the Portland area is limited to parts of the Tualatin Mountains, the foothills of the Cascade Range, and muc
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Estimated Depth to Ground Water and Configuration of the Water Table in the Portland, Oregon Area