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Streamflow, Base Flow, and Ground-Water Recharge in the Housatonic River Basin, Western Massachusetts and Parts of Eastern New York and Northwestern Connecticut

Water Resources Investigations Report 98-4232

By Gardner C. Bent 

ABSTRACT

Streamflows for selected flow durations from 1 to 99 percent and the August median streamflows were estimated for 11 long-term streamflow-gaging stations in and near the study area. Estimates of streamflow and associated standard errors were determined for selected flow durations from 50 to 99 percent and the August median streamflows for 21 low-flow partial-record stations and for selected flow durations from 1 to 99 percent and the August median streamflows for two partial-record stations and seven short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations. Median streamflows per square mile for the 10-, 50-, and 90-percent flow durations and the August median streamflows were 3.90, 1.01, 0.185, and 0.248 cubic feet per second per square mile. Streamflows per square mile at selected flow-duration discharges between 1 and 99 percent at the 41 stations were related to basin characteristics to explain differences in streamflow characteristics. Basin characteristics included basin elevations, extent of stratified-drift deposits, land use, aspect, and underlying bedrock geology types. Most streamflow differences were positively correlated to basin elevation differences, most likely because precipitation increases with elevation, and to stratified-drift deposits, which allow more precipitation to recharge the ground water and to discharge later than do till and bedrock deposits.

Mean base flow was computed from continuous records of daily mean discharge at 11 long-term streamflow-gaging stations in and near the study area. Mean annual base flow ranged from 13.4 to 24.5 inches per year. Minimum annual base flow ranged from 45 to 72 percent of mean annual rates at the 11 long-term stations, and the ratio of base flow to streamflow (base-flow index) ranged from 0.55 to 0.80. Base-flow durations between 1 and 99 percent were calculated from streamflow records at the 11 long-term streamflow-gaging stations. Base flow accounted for 45.5 to 85.0 percent of total annual streamflow at the 1- and 99-percent flow durations.
Ground-water-recharge rates were computed from continuous records of daily mean discharge at 11 long-term streamflow-gaging stations in and near the study area. Mean annual ground-water-recharge rates ranged from 17.5 to 22.4 inches per year at 10 of the 11 long-term stations. Mean annual ground-water-recharge rates ranged from 2 to 7 inches per year higher than base flow. Minimum annual ground-water-recharge rates ranged from 48 to 72 percent of mean annual ground-water-recharge rates. Mean annual potential ground-water recharge was estimated from monthly climatological data collected at six climatological stations in and near the study area. Mean potential ground-water recharge ranged from about 17.9 to 28.9 inches per year, with a median value of 22.6 inches per year. This median value compares well to that calculated by use of streamflow records at the 11 streamflow-gaging stations (20.0 inches per year).

Streamflows per square mile for the 10-, 50-, and 90-percent flow durations at stations in and near the study area were similar to those computed for other unregulated long-term continuous streamflow-gaging stations in central and eastern Massachusetts. Base-flow and ground-water-recharge rates in the study area compared closely to results from other studies in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which were based on the same computational methods.

CONTENTS

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Previous Investigations

Acknowledgments

Description of Study Area

Geology

Climate

Hydrology

Water Use

Land Use

Streamflow

Flow Durations and Estimates of August Median Streamflow

Long-Term Stations

Short-Term Stations

Factors Affecting Streamflow

Surficial Geology

Bedrock Geology

Climate

Other Physical Features

Base Flow

Long-Term Stations

Short-Term Stations

Ground-Water Recharge

Streamflow Hydrograph Analysis

Climatological Data Analysis

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

FIGURES

1-3. Maps showing:

  1. Location of study area in the Housatonic River Basin, western Massachusetts and parts of eastern New York and northwestern Connecticut
  2. Distribution of underlying bedrock types and stratified-drift and till deposits
  3. Location of long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations, ground-water observation wells, and climatological stations in and near the study area
  4. Hydrographs showing water-level fluctuations for selected observation wells in the Housatonic River Basin, western Massachusetts, 195196

5, 6. Maps showing:

  1. Location of surface-water and ground-water sources used for public-water supplies
  2. Location of low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations used in flow-duration analysis

TABLES

  1. Site descriptions and water levels measured in U.S. Geological Survey observation wells completed in stratified-drift deposits in the Housatonic River Basin, western Massachusetts, 199496
  2. Water use by municipalities within the Massachusetts part of the Housatonic River Basin, 199495
  3. Description of long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations used in streamflow, base-flow, and ground-water-recharge analyses in and near the Housatonic River Basin, western Massachusetts and parts of eastern New York and northwestern Connecticut
  4. Streamflows for selected flow durations and August median streamflows at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  5. Streamflows per square mile for selected flow durations and August median streamflows per square mile at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflowgaging stations
  6. Description of low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations, for which streamflow estimates are provided
  7. Summary of flow-duration analysis at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  8. Estimated streamflows for selected flow durations and estimated August median streamflows at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  9. Standard errors of estimated streamflows for selected flow durations and estimated August median streamflows at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  10. Estimated streamflows per square mile for selected flow durations and estimated August median streamflows at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  11. Correlation coefficients for the relations between streamflow and basin characteristics at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations, and long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  12. Correlation coefficients for the relations between streamflow and basin characteristics at partial-record stations, short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations, and long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  13. Correlation coefficients for the relations between streamflow and basin characteristics at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  14. Estimates of minimum, maximum, and mean annual streamflow and base flow, and base-flow indexes derived from the computer programs HYSEP and PART at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  15. Correlation coefficients for the relation of base-flow and ground-water-recharge characteristics to basin characteristics at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  16. Streamflow, base flow, and ratio of base flow to streamflow for selected flow durations derived from the computer program HYSEP at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  17. Estimates of minimum, maximum, and mean annual ground-water recharge and recharge indexes derived from the computer program RORA at long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  18. Estimates of mean annual potential evapotranspiration and ground-water recharge derived from the Thornthwaite and Mather (1957) method at climatological stations
  19. Water budget for the Green River subbasin, western Massachusetts and part of eastern New York, water years 195271 and 1995
  20. Basin characteristics determined by using a geographic information system at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, short-term discontinued streamflow-gaging stations, and long-term continuous and discontinued streamflow-gaging stations
  21. Streamflow measurements made and used in analyses at low-flow partial-record stations, partial-record stations, and short-and long-term discontinued streamflowgaging stations, water years 196396
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