The when and where of well-deepening


Last updated 12/8/2021 at Noon

There have been several letters to the editor concerning water wells in the area that have had to be deepened due to declining groundwater levels. If one is interested in looking into the issue the Oregon Dept. of Water Resources (OWRD) website has a lot of information. Here is the address to their water well mapping tool:

It can be used to plot the location of deepened wells on a map and also display a host of information specific to each well, including the where and when of well-deepenings.

To start, uncheck “Monitor” and “Geotechnical.”

Next, define the area (Sisters Country?) you are interested in by zooming in and then click on the blue info button in the lower corner of the window. Then drag a box to define your area of interest.

Then all the water wells in your area of interest will appear as green dots. Beneath the map window is a spreadsheet window with data about each well. There is a column titled “Deepening” among the many columns.

Now click on the show/hide button (second from the upper left corner of spreadsheet) and start to uncheck most of the columns; make your own choices. Do not uncheck “Completion Date.” The critical ones to uncheck are: “New,” “Conversion,” “Alteration,” and “Abandonment.” Now all the columns should be visible in the window if you have unchecked most of the columns, and the “Completion Date” and “Deepening” columns should be side by side. You can scroll down and get a feeling for how the frequency of well-deepening has varied over time.

The map will still show all the water wells, but not the deepened wells.

So click “Layers” at the top left of the screen and uncheck “Type of Log.” Next, expand the “Type of Work on Water /Monitoring Wells” and make sure that only “Deepening Wells” is checked.

Now all the deepened wells are displayed on the map with a small green triangle.

But there is a problem because in your area of interest all the water wells are still displayed, and thus green dots cover the triangles.

To get rid of green dots so you can see the deepened wells green triangle, click on “Search” in the upper lefthand corner then click on the red X button with “clear” beside it (don’t click the first red button or it is back to the beginning).

Now you can see the deepened wells in the area of interest.

Now you know the when and where of well-deepening.

Another writer to The Nugget compared a comment by a City of Sisters employee that the city’s water wells are very good producers to the fact that water wells in the area are needing to be deepened. There is no contradiction here. The city is in a good location for productive wells because the subsurface geology is permeable and the groundwater

aquifer recharge potential is high. In contrast, wells to the northeast of Sisters may encounter much older

and less permeable strata and recharge potential is lower.

If you are interested in groundwater levels trends in the Sisters area, the OWRD monitors water level in observation wells state-wide. Here is the address of the groundwater information system mapping tool:

Here you can display the observation wells on a map zoomed into the area you are interested in. There are few observations wells compared to water wells, so if you zoom in very close you may see no observation wells on the map. Next click “Layers” in the upper left-hand window and uncheck “Non-current Obs Wells” and “Other Wells.” Now go back to the map and blue dots mark the observation wells. Click on a blue dot and then on “Hydrograph” in the pop-up window. The hydrograph will give you a graph of the water level change in the well over time.

Mark Yinger is a retired hydrogeologist living in the Sisters area.


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