Although the average annual precipitation of the Clatsop Plains is 78.5 inches, the area is not without problems of water supply. The Clatsop Plains area ix underlain by Tertiary bedrock of low permeability that stores and yields small quantities of ground water, which may be of poor chemical quality. This Tertiary bedrock furnishes only minor ground-water discharge to maintain the base flow of streams. The flow of rivers and creeks, normally abundant during the wet season, decreases greatly during the dry summer months.
The lowlands are overlain by extensive deposits of dune and beach sand. The dune sand is permeable and can absorb and store, as fresh water, a large percentage of the annual precipitation. In the central part of the dune area, the saturated thickness of the sand ranges from 95 to more than 150 feet. Most of the ground water in the sand discharges to the ocean through beach-line seeps and underflow. Much of the water now being discharged to the ocean could be recovered by pumping from properly located, designed, and constructed wells. Three test wells drilled as part of this study are capable of yielding 100 gallons per minute although they are equipped with only short lengths of well screen. It is estimated that 2,500 acre-feet of ground water per year per square mile of area may be available for withdrawal in the 10 square mile area that is most favorable for development.
The water from the dune sand is soft to moderately hard, has a low chloride concentration, and is of generally good chemical quality; however, at places it is weakly acidic and contains sufficient dissolved iron to make iron removal necessary for some uses. Ground water from shallow depths beneath a few swampy low-lying areas is brown and contains excessive concentrations of iron.