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Streamflow, Ground-Water Recharge and Discharge, and Characteristics of Surficial Deposits in Buzzards Bay Basin, Southeastern Massachusetts

U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4234

By Gardner C. Bent


Streamflow measurements at 14 low-flow partial-record stations and two discontinued streamflow-gaging stations were related to concurrent streamflows at six long-term streamflow-gaging stations to estimate streamflows at selected flow durations from 50 to 99 percent for water years 1967-91. At low flows, stream discharge per square mile generally increased with increasing percentage of subbasin underlain by stratified-drift deposits. At the 70-, 90-, and 99-percent flow durations, subbasins underlain primarily by stratified-drift deposits had stream discharges per square mile at least 2, 4, and 8 times greater, respectively, than subbasins underlain primarily by till and bedrock deposits. Streamflow measured three times at the Paskamanset River showed that streamflows downstream of municipal pumped wells increased at a lower rate per unit drainage area than streamflows upstream of the pumped wells. When pumpage from wells near the river was added to measured streamflow at the most downstream station, the sum was similar to the potential streamflow at the station if its streamflow per unit area was the same as that upstream from the pumped wells.

Mean ground-water recharge and discharge rates were computed from continuous records of daily mean discharge during water years 1967-91 for six streamflow-gaging stations in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Estimates of mean ground-water recharge were 19.7 to 22.6 inches per year for stations with drainage areas primarily underlain by till and bedrock deposits, and 23.8 to 25.2 inches per year for stations with drainage areas primarily underlain by stratified-drift deposits. During drought years, annual ground-water recharge can be less than 50 percent of the mean ground-water recharge rate for water years 1967-91. Estimates of ground-water discharge rates generally were 1 to 4 inches per year less than estimates of ground-water recharge rates.

Ground-water discharge-duration curves were calculated from hydrograph separation of streamflow records at the six continuous streamflow-gaging stations for water years 1967-91. When streamflows were less than the median streamflow (50-percent duration), ground-water discharges averaged 85.7 percent of the total streamflow at the six streamflow-gaging stations. Ground-water discharges were estimated at the 14 low-flow partial-record stations and two discontinued streamflow-gaging stations by multiplying streamflows at the selected flow durations from 50 to 99 percent for water years 1967-91 by 85.7 percent.

Data on surficial deposits in the basin were obtained by drilling 10 wells, by conducting 12 seismic-refraction surveys, and by collecting well log data for 313 wells from consulting firms and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management. These data indicated that a few minor corrections could be made to existing saturated thickness maps for stratified-drift deposits in Buzzards Bay Basin. Few well logs were detailed enough to estimate transmissivities; thus existing transmissivity maps were not updated for stratified-drift deposits in the basin.




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Entire Report (1.8 MB)       - 61 pages


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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