Hydrologic setting of wetlands in the Cottonwood Lake area, Stutsman County, North Dakota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 80-99




Because of growing interest in the role of lakes and wetlands in the hydrology of the prairie environment, a group of wetlands in the Cottonwood Lake area, Stutsman County, are being instrumented for long-term hydrologic studies. The study site is on a regional topographic high near the eastern edge of the Missouri Coteau and is underlain by more than 400 feet of glacial drift, largely clayey, silty till. Long-term climatic data indicate the study area is in a water deficient area mean annual evaporation exceeds mean annual precipitation by about 18 inches.

Different methods are being used for comparison of measurements and estimates of each hydrologic component interacting with the lakes and wetlands. For example, for 3 months during 1979, estimates of precipitation for the study site using data collected at National Weather Service stations differed from that measured by a recording gage at the study site by several tenths of an inch for 14-day totals and differed by more than 0.5 inch for individual storms.

Numerical-simulation analysis of regional ground-water flow systems show the study site is situated in a regional recharge area, but local groundwater flow systems can discharge to lakes and wetlands within the recharge area. Instrumentation at the study site shows a complex interrelationship of wetlands and ground water. Based on data for 1979 only, some wetlands appear to recharge ground water, some wetlands are flow-through types where ground water enters one side and surface water seeps into the ground on the other side, and some wetlands are discharge points for ground water. Further, these interrelationships vary throughout the year.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrologic setting of wetlands in the Cottonwood Lake area, Stutsman County, North Dakota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
North Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center
vi, 42 p.
United States
North Dakota
Stutsman County
Other Geospatial:
Cottonwood Lake