An investigation into groundwater/surface-water interactions in four tributary subbasins of the Okanogan River determined that streamflows and shallow groundwater levels beneath the streams varied seasonally and by location. Streamflows measured in June 2008 indicated net losses of streamflow along 10 of 17 reaches, and hydraulic gradients measured between streams and shallow groundwater indicated potential recharge of surface water to groundwater at 11 of 21 measurement sites. In September 2008, net losses of streamflow were indicated along 9 of 17 reaches, and potential recharge of surface water to groundwater was indicated at 18 of 21 measurement sites. The greatest losses of streamflow occurred near the confluences with the Okanogan River, likely due to the presence of thick layers of unconsolidated deposits in the flood plain of the Okanogan River.
Based on available geologic information compiled from drillers' logs, a surficial geologic map, and streamflow records, the extensive and thick deposits of unconsolidated material in the Tunk and Bonaparte Creek subbasins are factors in sustaining the almost perennial streamflow in those creeks. The less extensive and generally thinner unconsolidated deposits in the Tonasket and Antoine subbasins are contributing factors to the occasional extended periods of zero flow (a dry stream channel) in those creeks.
Even though groundwater withdrawals would affect streamflows, relatively low precipitation in the area, along with limited groundwater storage capacity and the presence of permeable, unconsolidated deposits underlying the stream channels, would likely lead to loss of surface water to the groundwater system without any withdrawals.