Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published as United States Geological Survey Water Investigations Report 01-4212 (2001), iv, 32 p. Prepared in cooperation with the Nebraska Platte River Cooperative Hydrology Study Group.


Many issues of water-resources management rely on modeling of ground-water/surface-water interactions, and streambed hydraulic conductivity is a key parameter controlling the water fluxes across the stream/aquifer interface. However, in central and western Nebraska, this parameter is generally undefined. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Nebraska Platte River Cooperative Hydrology Study Group, performed slug tests at 15 steam sites in the Platte, Republican, and Little Blue River watersheds to determine the hydraulic conductivity of streambeds in central and western Nebraska. Slug tests were completed at several discrete depth intevals using pneumatic or mechanical methods, and the water-level response was monitored on site using a pressure transducer and laptop computer. Responses were analyzed using either the Bouwer and Rice or Springer and Gelhar methods. Vertical profiles of hydraulic conductivity with depth were developed and were compared to available information on lithology.

The profiles and corresponding lithology showed that different types of streambeds were tested and suggested that some streambeds display a large variability in hydraulic conductivity with depth. In some cases, conductivity values associated with nonstreambed materials could be identified from nearby lithologic descriptions. Seven of 15 sites had streambed values that ranged over more than 3 orders of magnitude, and that variability increased significantly when the measurements considered to be from nonstreambed materials were included. Streambed profiles from the Platte and South Platte River sites generally were more homogeneous and of larger hydraulic conductivity than other sites. No restrictive layers were detected at any of thestreambed sites on the main stems or the flood plains of the main stems of their respective watersheds. Alternatively, the profiles characterized by a restrictive streambed layer at some depth below the streambed surface were all from tributary sites out of the main-stem flood plain. These profiles can be used to represent the streambed hydraulic conductivity in central and western Nebraska in various applications, including modeling ground-water/surface-water interactions.