The area described is almost wholly in Nebraska and is the drainage basin of Lodgepole Creek from the Wyoming State line to the Colorado State line, a distance along the stream valley of about 95 miles. It covers about 1,950 square miles. The purposes of the study were to ascertain the characteristics, thickness, and extent of the water-bearing formations and to obtain and interpret data on the origin, quality, quantity, movement, availability, and use of ground water in the area.
The rocks exposed in the drainage basin are the Brule formation of Oligocene (Tertiary) age, the Ogallala formation of Pliocene (Tertiary) age, and alluvium of Pleistocene and Recent (Quaternary) age. The Brule formation is mainly a siltstone, which yields an average of 950 gallons per minute (gpm) to irrigation wells tapping its fractured zones or reworked material; the maximum reported discharge is 2,200 gpm. The Ogallala formation underlies most of the area. It consists of lenticular beds of clayey, silty, sandy, and gravelly materials and supplies water to all wells on the upland, including a few large-discharge wells, and to many irrigation and public-supply wells in the valley of Lodgepole Creek. The yield of irrigation wells tapping the Ogallala formation ranges from 90 to 1,600 gpm and averages about 860 gpm. The alluvium is present in the valleys of Lodgepole Creek and its tributaries and consists mainly of heterogeneous . mixtures of silt, sand, and gravel, and lenticular bodies of these materials. Between the Colorado State line and Chappell, Nebr., irrigation wells derive most of their water from the alluvium. However, between Chappell and Sidney most of the irrigation wells tap both the alluvium and permeable zones in the underlying Brule formation, and in much of the valley west of Sidney, where the water table is beneath the bottom of the alluvium, irrigation wells derive water from the underlying Brule or Ogallala formations. Irrigation wells obtaining water chiefly from the alluvium have a yield ranging from 130 to 1,200 gpm, averaging about 770 gpm.
In the Lodgepole Creek valley below Sidney the depth to water generally is less than 20 feet and, in many places, less than 10. In much of this part of the area the water table extends to the land surface or to the root zone of the vegetation, and discharge by evapotranspiration is high. In the valley of Lodgepole Creek between Sidney and the Wyoming State line, the depth to water generally ranges from less than 10 feet near the stream to more than 100 along the edge of the valley. In the upland the depth to water ranges from about 80 to about 300 feet.
Recharge to the ground-water reservoir is derived chiefly from precipitation; other sources are seepage from irrigation systems and streams, and subsurface inflow of ground water. Water that infiltrates to the water table generally moves toward Lodgepole Creek in a downstream direction and is discharged into the stream through springs and seeps. However, within an area of at least 400 square miles in the northern part of the lower Lodgepole Creek drainage basin, ground water moves toward the valley of the North Platte River.
Water is discharged from the ground-water reservoir into streams, by evapotranspiration, through wells, and by subsurface outflow. During the 1951-52 water year about 13,000 acre-feet of ground water left the area as streamflow. An estimated 20,000 acre-feet of water annually is discharged by the transpiration of grasses and trees growing along the creek bottom, and about 1,000 acre-feet of water leaves as subsurface outflow.
During the period 1950-51 about 68,000 acre-feet of water was pumped from wells in the area for all uses. Of this amount; about 35,000 acre-feet in 1950 and 23,300 acre-feet in 1951 were used to irrigate about 15,560 and 15,790 acres. Nearly one-fourth of this water percolated back to the ground-water reservoir. These acreages, however, included about 2,100 acres irrigated in p