Application of a Groundwater Classification System and GIS Mapping System for the Lower Ruby Valley Watershed, Southwest Montana


Classification of groundwater conditions at the watershed scale synthesizes landscape hydrology, provides a mapped summary of groundwater resources, and supports water management decisions. The application of a recently developed watershed-scale groundwater classification methodology is applied and evaluated in the 100,000 hectare lower Ruby Valley watershed of southwestern Montana. The geologic setting, groundwater flow direction, aquifer productivity, water quality, anthropogenic impact to water levels, depth to groundwater, and the degree of connection between groundwater and surface water are key components of the classification scheme. This work describes the hydrogeology of the lower Ruby Valley watershed and illustrates how the classification system is applied to assemble, analyze, and summarize groundwater data. The classification process provides information in summary tables and maps of seamless digital overlays prepared using geographical information system (GIS) software. Groundwater conditions in the watershed are classified as low production bedrock aquifers in the mountainous uplands that recharge the moderate productivity basin-fill sediments. Groundwater levels approach the surface near the Ruby River resulting in sufficient groundwater discharge to maintain stream flow during dry, late summer conditions. The resulting classification data sets provide watershed managers with a standardized organizational tool that represents groundwater conditions at the watershed scale.

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S. Payne, I. Magruder and W. Woessner, "Application of a Groundwater Classification System and GIS Mapping System for the Lower Ruby Valley Watershed, Southwest Montana," Journal of Water Resource and Protection, Vol. 5 No. 8, 2013, pp. 775-791. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2013.58079.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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