Hydrogeology of the Ramapo River-Woodbury Creek valley-fill aquifer system and adjacent areas in eastern Orange County, New York

Scientific Investigations Report 2014-5156
Prepared in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation



The hydrogeology of the valley-fill aquifer system and surrounding watershed areas was investigated within a 23-mile long, fault-controlled valley in eastern Orange County, New York. Glacial deposits form a divide within the valley that is drained to the north by Woodbury Creek and is drained to the south by the Ramapo River. Surficial geology, extent and saturated thickness of sand and gravel aquifers, extent of confining units, bedrock-surface elevation beneath valleys, major lineaments, and the locations of wells for which records are available were delineated on an interactive map.

Currently (2013), groundwater is the primary source of water supply in the study area. Several public water-supply systems withdraw groundwater from production wells in valley areas; elsewhere, domestic wells are used for water supply. Community-supply wells tap both sand and gravel and fractured bedrock aquifers; most domestic wells tap fractured-bedrock aquifers.

Thick, saturated sand and gravel deposits are limited in areal extent but form several localized, productive aquifer zones within the valley-fill sediments. Hydraulic interconnection among these zones is largely untested. Fine-grained lacustrine deposits form extensive confining units above some aquifer material. Till deposits that extend into valleys also confine sand and gravel or bedrock aquifers. The study area was divided into three sections—south, central, and north.

The south section of the study area, from Harriman south to the Rockland County and New Jersey borders, includes the south-draining valleys of the Ramapo River and Summit Brook. South of the wide valley area at Harriman, the valleys are narrow and the valley-fill aquifers are largely untested; the most favorable aquifer conditions are likely at Arden and where major tributary streams enter the valley, between Southfields and We-Wah Lake. At Harriman, the Ramapo River valley fill has water-resource potential from ice-contact sand and gravel deposits.

The central section of the study area encompasses the headwater drainage area of the Ramapo River, from Harriman to Monroe and Kiryas Joel. The valley-fill aquifer material is generally thin, mostly unconfined, and underlain by glacial till. Shallow production wells tap parts of this aquifer, and appear most productive when sited near surface-water bodies. Production wells in the section are frequently completed in the underlying bedrock.

The north section of the study area encompasses the watershed of north-draining Woodbury Creek to just north of its confluence with Moodna Creek. The width of the valley bottom and type of valley-fill deposits vary considerably within the valley. The section likely has the greatest water-resource potential—both confined and unconfined aquifers are present and the village of Woodbury and town of Cornwall draw water supply from production wells. Aquifer potential appears most promising north of Central Valley, but several areas in this section are largely untested.

Valley-fill aquifers are modest resources within the area, as indicated by the common practice of completing supply wells in the underlying bedrock rather than the overlying glacial deposits. Groundwater turbidity problems curtail use of the resource. However, additional groundwater resources have been identified by test drilling, and there are remaining untested areas. New groundwater supplies that stress localized aquifer areas will alter the groundwater flow system. Considerations include potential water-quality degradation from nearby land use(s) and, where withdrawals induce infiltration of surface-water, balancing withdrawals with flow requirements for downstream users or for maintenance of stream ecological health.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeology of the Ramapo River-Woodbury Creek valley-fill aquifer system and adjacent areas in eastern Orange County, New York
Series title Scientific Investigations Report
Series number 2014-5156
DOI 10.3133/sir20145156
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) New York Water Science Center
Description Report: vi, 23 p.; Appendixes 1-2; Plate: 34.0 x 44.0 inches
Country United States
State New York
County Orange County
Other Geospatial Ramapo River, Woodbury Creek
Datum North American Datum 1983
Projection Universal Transverse Mercator projection
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details