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Data Series 473

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Yakama Nation

Summary of Seepage Investigations in the Yakima River Basin, Washington

By C.S. Magirl, R.J. Julich, W.B. Welch, C.R. Curran, M.C. Mastin, and J.J. Vaccaro

Conversion Factors

Multiply By To obtain
mile (mi) 1.609 kilometer (km)
cubic foot per second (ft3/s) 0.02832 cubic meter per second (m3/s)
cubic foot per second per mile [(ft3/s)/mi-1] 0.04557 cubic meter per second per kilometer [(m3/s)/km-1]


Discharge data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Yakama Nation for seepage investigations in the Yakima River basin are made available as downloadable Microsoft© Excel files. These data were collected for more than a century at various times for several different studies and are now available in one location to facilitate future analysis by interested parties.


This report is part of a larger study conducted as a cooperative effort of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Bureau of Reclamation, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Yakama Nation (; also see Jones and others, 2006). The purpose of the study was to develop a better understanding of the groundwater flow system, and its relation to surface-water resources, in the Yakima River basin, Washington.

This report makes available through a web page discharge data collected by the USGS, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Yakama Nation for 11 stream sections in the Yakima River basin from 1897 through 2009. The data were obtained as part of seepage investigations to estimate gaining and losing reaches of selected streams in the basin. Collection of such data also is known as a ‘seepage investigation’ or seepage run. These data can be used to identify areas of groundwater discharge to streams or streamflow losses to the groundwater system.

An interactive Google Maps™ image shows the location of the basin and the reaches that were included as part of seepage investigations ( The streamflow gains or losses for a reach are shown by five percentage categories and the percentages have been rounded for display purposes. For example, a 2.2 percent gain is displayed as 2 percent and a 6.3 percent loss is displayed as -6 percent.


The USGS and other agencies have conducted numerous seepage investigations. Although much of the information has been published in reports, the availability and scope of the data are not widely known. As part of the Yakima River basin groundwater study, these data were collected either directly or compiled from other sources.

Data compiled from USGS reports include a seepage investigation from 1897 conducted by Mr. Cyrus C. Babb and reported in Smith (1901), a Yakima River seepage investigation from 1988 reported by Morace and others (1999), and a Yakima River seepage investigation from 1999 reported by Ebbert and Embrey (2002). Additional USGS data were collected as part of the current study. All other data were collected by personnel from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Carey, 2006; J. Kardouni, Washington State Department of Ecology, written commun., 2008), and the Yakama Nation (D. Lind and S. Ladd, Yakama Nation, written commun., 2008, 2009).

All USGS discharge data are permanently stored and available in the USGS National Water Information System. Sixteen seepage investigations were conducted from 1897 through 2009. Together, these investigations included 470 discharge measurements for 11 stream sections throughout the Yakima River basin. These 11 stream sections include the upper, middle, and lower sections of the Yakima River, as well as the Teanaway River, Swauk Creek, Taneum Creek, Manastash Creek, Naneum Creek, Cooke Creek, Wilson Creek, Cherry Creek, Umtanum Creek, the Naches River, the Tieton River, the American River, Ahtanum Creek, Marion Drain, Toppenish Creek, and Satus Creek. Within a reach, several measurements of either diversions or inflows may have been made. The location of gaging stations and names and locations of most diversions and inflows measured at least once are shown in figure 1 (PDF, 192 KB) .

The Microsoft© Excel filename is: Yakima_basin_seepage_runs_data.xls.

The Excel file includes 27 worksheets with seepage investigation data ordered by date of investigation, from earliest to most recent. The worksheets are named by the month and year of a particular investigation, and if the investigation was not for the Yakima River, the name of the stream is added to the worksheet label. Two additional worksheets are provided in the file: “Summary by date” and “Summary of measured sections.” These worksheets summarize and include general information about the investigated streams, including dates of investigations, names of streams investigated, relative location in the basin (upper, middle, and lower) and specific locations (bounding river mile and latitude-longitude of the bounding river mile).

Each Excel worksheet containing information for a single seepage investigation includes 10 columns showing the site name of the seepage measurement, the river mile where the measurement was made, the date of the measurement (if available), and the measurement data. If the measurement was on the main stem of the river, the discharge was placed in the “Measured” column; measured inflows and diversions were placed in the “Tributary inflow” column or “Diversion outflow” column, as appropriate. The difference in discharge between sequential measurements on the stream minus the sum of all tributary inflows plus the sum of all diversion outflows represented the gain or loss to the surface flow of a given water course for that reach. These differences were added to each table under the “Difference” column. The difference in discharge normalized against the total discharge was the percent difference and was also included in the column “Percent difference.” The difference for a reach divided by the reach length (column “Reach length”) yields a normalized discharge per mile in the column “Gain/loss per mile.” Not all inflows or diversions were measured for each seepage investigation. For internal consistency between tables, however, all inflows and diversions are included in each table and ‘nd,’ for no data was entered as the measurement.

Distribution of Information

The Excel file with the discharge data is available at: Yakima_basin_seepage_runs_data.xls (XLS, 456 KB)

References Cited

Carey, Barbara, 2006, Groundwater–surface water interactions along the Naches and Tieton Rivers, summer and fall 2004: Washington State Department of Ecology, Publication No. 06-03-003, revised August 2007, accessed August 5, 2009, at

Ebbert, J.C., and Embrey, S.S., 2002, Pesticides in surface water of the Yakima River basin, Washington, 1999–2000—Their occurrence and an assessment of factors affecting concentrations and loads: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 2001-4211, 49 p., accessed August 5, 2009, at

Jones, M.A., Vaccaro, J.J., and Watkins, A.M., 2006, Hydrogeologic framework of sedimentary deposits in six structural basins, Yakima River basin, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5116, 24 p., 7 pls., accessed August 5, 2009, at

Morace, J.L., Fuhrer, G.J., Rinella, J.F., McKenzie, S.W., and others, 1999, Surface-water-quality assessment of the Yakima River basin in Washington: Overview of major findings, 1987–91: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4113, 119 p., accessed August 5, 2009, at

Smith, G.O., 1901, Geology and water resources of a portion of Yakima County, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply and Irrigation Papers No. 55, 101 p., accessed August 5, 2009, at

For additional information contact:
Director, Washington Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
934 Broadway, Suite 300
Tacoma, WA 98402

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Magirl, C.S., Julich, R.J., Welch, W.B., Curran, C.R., Mastin, M.C., and Vaccaro, J.J., 2009, Summary of seepage investigations in the Yakima River basin, Washington: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 473.

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