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Hydrogeology and sources of recharge to the Buffalo and Wahpeton aquifers in the southern part of the Red River of the North drainage basin, west-central Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4084

Prepared in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Moorhead Public Service
By:

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Abstract

Declining hydraulic heads in the Buffalo and Wahpeton aquifers are of concern to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local water managers because of limited groundwater resources in the southern part of the Red River of the North drainage basin. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Moorhead Public Service, investigated the hydrogeology of and sources of recharge to the Buffalo and Wahpeton aquifers.

The Buffalo aquifer is a complex, heterogeneous outwash deposit composed of medium to coarse sand and gravel. Part of the Buffalo aquifer is unconfined and part is confined. The direction of ground water flow in the Buffalo aquifer is from east to west. Water-level declines in observation wells near the Moorhead Public Service North Well Field extend beyond the eastern and western boundaries of the Buffalo aquifer. Transmissivity and storativity calculated from the drawdown part of an aquifer test ranged from 20,870 to 23,852 feet squared per day and from 3.0 x 10-5 to 3.2 x 10-2, respectively. Transmissivity and hydraulic conductivity values of 29,090 and 28,450 feet squared per day and 272 and 266 feet per day were calculated from the recovery-phase data.

Potential recharge from the Buffalo River and its tributaries to the Buffalo aquifer ranged from 5 to 14 cubic feet per second. Recharge from precipitation where the Buffalo aquifer is unconfined was about 1.49 x 105 cubic feet per day. Recharge per unit length of the Buffalo aquifer during an aquifer test near the Moorhead Public Service North Well Field ranged from 3.9 x 10-4 to 2.0 x 10-2 cubic feet per day.

The Wahpeton Shallow Sand, the Wahpeton Sand Plain, and the Wahpeton Buried Valley aquifers comprise the Wahpeton aquifers in order of increasing depth. All the aquifers are composed of fine- to coarse-grained sand mixed with gravel. Confining units are interleaved with the Wahpeton aquifers.

Ground-water-flow directions in the Wahpeton aquifers were changed by ground-water development. Before development, ground water flowed from the Wahpeton Buried Valley aquifer upward to the Wahpeton Sand Plain aquifer and the Wahpeton Shallow Sand aquifer. After development, ground water flowed from the Wahpeton Shallow Sand aquifer to the Wahpeton Sand Plain and the Wahpeton Buried Valley aquifers.

The potential sources of recharge to the Wahpeton aquifers investigated were the Red River of the North, and adjacent hydro geologic units. The volume of ground water pumped from the Wahpeton aquifers provides an estimate of the upper limit for the volume of recharge to the aquifer. Based on pumpage from all of the Wapheton aquifers from 1990 to 1993, the upper limit is about 580 million gallons per year (2.4 x 105 cubic feet per day).

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeology and sources of recharge to the Buffalo and Wahpeton aquifers in the southern part of the Red River of the North drainage basin, west-central Minnesota and southeastern North Dakota
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
97-4084
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Mounds View, MN
Contributing office(s):
Minnesota Water Science Center
Description:
v, 35 p.
Country:
United States
State:
Minnesota, North Dakota
Other Geospatial:
Red River of the North basin
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N