Water resources of Lincoln County coastal area, Oregon

Water-Resources Investigations Report 76-90

Prepared in cooperation with the Oregon Water Resources Department



The Lincoln County coastal area is underlain by Tertiary volcanic and sedimentary rocks of low permeability that store only a small volume of the annual precipitation which averages 68 inches (1,730 millimeters). Consequently, the Tertiary units yield small quantities of water to wells and furnish little ground-water discharge to maintain the base flow of streams. Although streamflow is normally abundant during the wet season, flow decreases greatly during summer when needed most.

Quaternary marine terrace deposits of semiconsolidated sand border the western part of the area and are the most productive aquifers. Several wells drilled into the Quaternary deposits are among the highest producing wells of the area, with yields of 25 to 60 gallons per minute (1.6 to 3.8 liters per second). The Siletz River Volcanics is one of the better aquifers in the area and generally yields water in volumes sufficient for domestic use. The average well drilled into these rocks yields 5 to 10 gallons per minute (0.3 to 0.6 liters per second). Locally, this formation is quite permeable and has a producing well in the study area, with a yield of 120 gallons per minute (7.6 liters per second). Other volcanic rocks of small areal extent and largely untested, are the basalts near Depoe Bay, Cape Foulweather, Yachats, and Cape Perpetua. Wells drilled in January 1976 near Depoe Bay indicate that as much as 125 gal/min (10 L/s) of water can be obtained from wells drilled into the basalt.

Tertiary marine sedimentary rocks of siltstone and sandstone are widespread throughout the area. Yields of wells drilled in these rocks are generally low (less than 5 gallons per minute, or 0.3 liters per second), and many wells in these formations produce no usable quantities of ground water.

Approximately 5,000,000 acre-feet (6,000 cubic hectometers) of water discharges annually into the Pacific Ocean from all streams along the Lincoln County coast. About 85 percent of the annual streamflow occurs from November through April. Minimum streamflaws occur from August through October when, at times, as little as 450 acre-feet (55 hectometers) per day flows from all streams.

Most of the ground water, with the exception of water from some wells drilled in the marine siltstone and sandstone, contains relatively small concentrations of dissolved minerals. Wells that tap the marine deposits at low altitudes have high concentrations of dissolved minerals, particularly sodium and chloride. In general, analyses of water from the 14 streams sampled in Lincoln County show very good chemical quality. The iron content of Depoe and Thiel Creeks is above the Environmental Protection Agency's recommended limit of 0.3 milligrams per liter for drinking water.

Annual water use totals 6.7 billion gallons, which is less than 0.5 percent of runoff. About 70 percent of the use is for industrial purposes at one lumber products mill, about 25 percent is for public supplies, and less than 5 percent for irrigation.

Water supplies for all municipalities in Lincoln County currently (1975) are obtained from surface-water sources. Because of rapid economic development of the coastal area, it is expected that additional water will be needed in the future. Additional water can be supplied (1) by reservoirs on major streams; (2) by the expansion, in some locations, of present surface-water facilities on small streams; and (3) locally, by an additional small volume of supplemental water from ground-water sources.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Water resources of Lincoln County coastal area, Oregon
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Portland, OR
Contributing office(s):
Oregon Water Science Center
Report: v, 64 p.; Plate: 35.54 x 37.99 inches
United States
LIncoln County
Online Only (Y/N):
Additional Online Files (Y/N):