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Office of Columbia River

USGS Columbia Plateau Groundwater Availability Study

Much of Eastern Washington sits on the Columbia Plateau Regional Aquifer System. The aquifer system covers over 50,000 square miles, extending into Oregon and Idaho. Water levels are declining in the system. Wells must draw water from points deeper within the aquifers. Less groundwater is available to recharge the regions rivers, and that which does appear is hotter and of lower quality than in the past. Climate change is also of concern.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began a four-year study to learn more about the system in October 2007. The Office of Columbia River is following this study closely and will use the knowledge it provides to gain a greater understanding of groundwater availability in the Columbia Basin..

The study has three broadly defined goals:

  • Characterizing the hydrologic status of the system.
  • Identifying trends in groundwater storage and use.
  • Quantifying groundwater availability.

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