Historical Groundwater Trends in Northern New England and Relations with Streamflow and Climatic Variables

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  • Paper No. JAWRA-12-0164-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA).
  • Discussions are open until six months from print publication.

Abstract

Water-level trends spanning 20, 30, 40, and 50 years were tested using month-end groundwater levels in 26, 12, 10, and 3 wells in northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont), respectively. Groundwater levels for 77 wells were used in interannual correlations with meteorological and hydrologic variables related to groundwater. Trends in the contemporary groundwater record (20 and 30 years) indicate increases (rises) or no substantial change in groundwater levels in all months for most wells throughout northern New England. The highest percentage of increasing 20-year trends was in February through March, May through August, and October through November. Forty-year trend results were mixed, whereas 50-year trends indicated increasing groundwater levels. Whereas most monthly groundwater levels correlate strongly with the previous month's level, monthly levels also correlate strongly with monthly streamflows in the same month; correlations of levels with monthly precipitation are less frequent and weaker than those with streamflow. Groundwater levels in May through August correlate strongly with annual (water year) streamflow. Correlations of groundwater levels with streamflow data and the relative richness of 50- to 100-year historical streamflow data suggest useful proxies for quantifying historical groundwater levels in light of the relatively short and fragmented groundwater data records presently available.

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