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Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5058

Ground-Water System in the Chimacum Creek Basin and Surface Water/Ground Water Interaction in Chimacum and Tarboo Creeks and the Big and Little Quilcene Rivers, Eastern Jefferson County, Washington

Prepared in cooperation with
Jefferson County Department of Natural Resources

By F. William Simonds, Claire I. Longpré, and Greg B. Justin


A detailed study of the ground-water system in the unconsolidated glacial deposits in the Chimacum Creek Basin and the interactions between surface water and ground water in four main drainage basins was conducted in eastern Jefferson County, Washington. The study will assist local watershed planners in assessing the status of the water resources and the potential effects of ground-water development on surface-water systems. A new surficial geologic map of the Chimacum Creek Basin and a series of hydrogeologic sections were developed by incorporating LIDAR imagery, existing map sources, and drillers' logs from 110 inventoried wells. The hydrogeologic framework outlined in the study will help characterize the occurrence of ground water in the unconsolidated glacial deposits and how it interacts with the surface-water system.

Water levels measured throughout the study show that the altitude of the water table parallels the surface topography and ranges from 0 to 400 feet above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 across the basin, and seasonal variations in precipitation due to natural cycles generally are on the order of 2 to 3 feet. Synoptic stream-discharge measurements and instream mini-piezometers and piezometers with nested temperature sensors provided additional data to refine the positions of gaining and losing reaches and delineate seasonal variations. Chimacum Creek generally gains water from the shallow ground-water system, except near the community of Chimacum where localized losses occur. In the lower portions of Chimacum Creek, gaining conditions dominate in the summer when creek stages are low and ground-water levels are high, and losing conditions dominate in the winter when creek stages are high relative to ground-water levels.

In the Quilcene Bay area, three drainage basins were studied specifically to assess surface water/ground water interactions. The upper reaches of Tarboo Creek generally gain water from the shallow ground-water system throughout most of the year and the lower reaches have little or no gains. The Big Quilcene River generally gains water from the shallow ground-water system after it emerges from a bedrock canyon and loses water from the town of Quilcene to the mouth of the river in Quilcene Bay. The Little Quilcene River generally loses water to the shallow ground-water system, although two localized areas were found to have gaining conditions. The Big Quilcene and Little Quilcene Rivers incur significant losses on the alluvial plain at the head of Quilcene Bay.

Each of the creeks examined had a unique pattern of gaining and losing reaches, owing to the hydraulic conductivity of the streambed material and the relative altitude of the surrounding water table. Although the magnitudes of gains and losses varied seasonally, the spatial distribution did not vary greatly, suggesting that patterns of gains and losses in surface-water systems depend greatly on the geology underlying the streambed.


Description of Study Area
Study Methods
Ground-Water System in the Chimacum Creek Basin
Ground-Water System
Surface Water/Ground Water Interactions
Additional Studies
References Cited

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Send questions or comments about this report to the authors, F. W. Simonds, (253) 428-3600 ext. 2669, C. I. Longpré, (253) 428-3600 ext. 2624, and G. B. Justin, (253) 428-3600 ext. 2607.

For more information about USGS activities in Washington, visit the USGS Washington District home page.

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