Washington State Department of Ecology

Link to:  Washington State Department of Ecology Groundwater Information

NGWMN Contact:

Eugene Freeman

(360) 407-6818



The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) is a water-level data provider to the National Groundwater Monitoring Network (NGWMN). Ecology collects groundwater level monitoring data primarily to support water rights permit decisions and long-range planning, but also for the statewide assessment of groundwater level status and trends, and drought impacts. The agency currently maintains a network of approximately 420 wells and serves data from 109 sites to the NGWMN Portal. Ecology has been a part of the Network since 2016. 

Ecology provides water-level data from the Columbia Plateau basaltic-rock aquifer, the Columbia Plateau basinfill aquifer, the Pacific Northwest basinfill aquifer, and the Puget Sound aquifer system.


NGWMN Projects:

2016 Round 2: 10/1/2016 to 9/30/2018

Initial project to become a NGWMN data provider.

2018: 9/1/2018 to 8/31/2020

Two-year project to add new site and web services, provide persistent data services, update site information, do well maintenance and drill new wells. They will be adding at least 30 new water-level sites and add will be setting up water-quality web services. They will be doing a GPS survey at well that need measuring points established. They will be doing well maintenance by pumping 12 existing monitoring wells. They will also be drilling 13 new wells to fill gaps in the Network.

2020: 9/1/2020 to 8/31/2022

Project is to provide persistent data services for two years to ensure that data continues to flow to the NGWMN Data Portal, that sites and site information are up to date. They will also add approximately 40 wells to the NGWMN to fill data gaps. 

NGWMN Presentations:

December 2016 presentation to SOGW

Site Selection and Classification

Site Selection** **

These were the general criteria for selection of wells to include in the NGWMN submissions:

 Site Classification **

"Surveillance" monitoring describes periodic water level measurements at selected wells.  The periodic water level measurements represent long-term trends and do not provide the more frequent measurements collected by "trend" monitoring. "Surveillance" wells are typically visited on an annual or biannual cycle (once or twice per year). "Trend" monitoring wells track long-term data, but also include monitoring of seasonal variation of water level.  "Trend" wells are typically used to collect water-level data with high measurement frequency data logging pressure transducers.

"Background" wells provide water level data for monitoring wells with no anthropogenic effect.  "Suspected" wells include monitoring wells that have suspected or anticipated anthropogenic effects. Documented changes refer to monitoring wells that have documented anthropogenic effects.

A total of 61 wells were selected and submitted to the NGWMN through the web service during the first two years of this project. The well categories included 6 trend wells and 55 surveillance wells. The number of subnetwork wells include 24 Background, 18 Known Change, and 19 Suspected Change. The wells were completed in principal aquifers that include 35 in the Columbia Plateau Basalt, 4 in the Columbia Plateau fill, 5 in the Pacific Northwest basin fill, and 17 in the Puget Sound aquifer system. Each well is identified by a location ID and is referenced to the corresponding site number, subnetwork, category, and principal aquifer in Appendix A of the 2016 Final Report

Data Collection Techniques

There are multiple methods by which water levels are measured at groundwater wells. Ecology has Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place to standardize the process and establish quality standards for data collection. Groundwater level measurements are addressed by two Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for (1) manual measurements (Marti, 2018) and (2) transducer measurements (Sinclair and Pitz, 2018). Manual measurement methods include electric tape, steel tape, and air-line. At wells where a pressure transducer is used, the water level is confirmed at least once each year using a manual tape measurement. The purpose of manual measurement at the transducer-equipped wells is to check for possible vertical change in position caused by cable slippage or instrument drift.

Annual groundwater monitoring is performed by the Water Resources Program from Ecology. The plan that describes how the program will conduct groundwater monitoring and adhere to quality assurance requirements is provided in the Integrated Statewide Groundwater Monitoring Strategy.

Ecology's field measurement and data processing procedures are generally consistent with the methods outlined in the NGWMN Framework Document. However, due to chronic understaffing in our groundwater monitoring program, we have historically visited our instrumented/trend sites only once or twice per year as opposed to the 4+ times per year recommended in the Framework Document.

Data Management

All manual data measurements are entered into the Department of Ecology Environmental Information Management System (EIM) database. The Environmental Information Management System (EIM) is Ecology's central database for environmental monitoring data. EIM contains records on physical, chemical, and biological analyses and measurements. Supplementary information about the data (metadata) is also stored, including information about environmental studies, monitoring locations, and data quality. Information in the database is available to the public for search and downloading at Ecology's web portal, https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/eimreporting/Default.aspx.

Field notes collected during groundwater level measurement are stored by the region in which the measurements were taken. Continuous data collected by pressure transducers are not readily available through EIM. Only corrected transducer data are entered into the EIM database. Because correction can be time consuming and because of limited staff resources, much of the transducer data are not presently loaded into EIM. Further tasks are intended to process and migrate transducer data and link to the NGWMN. The data requirements and standard operating procedures for collecting water level data are described in Ecology (2017).

Other Agency Information

Washington State Department of Ecology Groundwater Information

Groundwater Resources

Nitrate Data Assessment