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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

Utah Geological Association


Central Utah: Diverse Geology of a Dynamic Landscape, 2007
Pages 345-359

Ground-Water Flow, Water-Level Trends, and the Connection Between Fairfield Spring and the Basin-Fill Aquifer in Cedar Valley, Utah County, North-Central Utah

J. Lucy Jordan, Walid Sabbah


Development of new domestic water supplies driven by rapid population growth in and around Cedar Valley has highlighted the need for a better understanding of the ground-water system in this north-central Utah valley. At the request of the Utah Division of Water Rights, the Utah Geological Survey is addressing this need by conducting a hydrogeologic study and constructing a ground-water flow model, both in progress. New water-level, aquifer-test, and water-quality data collected for this study, along with previously collected data, significantly improve our conceptual understanding of the Cedar Valley ground-water flow system and provide the framework for the ground-water flow model.

Ground water in Cedar Valley generally flows from west to east across the valley through the upper few hundred feet of the basin-fill aquifer, which is confined over much of the valley by a continuous clay unit up to 240 feet thick. Ground water flowing across the valley encounters a north-south trending normal fault on the eastern margin of the valley, which is a conduit for fault-parallel ground-water flow and a barrier to ground-water flow across the fault. Ground-water flow is directed around the Lake Mountains via this fault to exit the valley through bedrock at Cedar Pass and Mosida Hills on the north and south ends of the Lake Mountains, respectively.

Long-term ground-water levels in the basin-fill aquifer are affected by the volume of recharge entering the aquifer at its western margin. Rising water levels due to increased recharge are delayed by up to nine years in wells located farthest from the western recharge area. Increased ground-water pumping in the past decade has had little negative effect on most of the aquifer, but may be lowering water levels near the eastern margin of the valley where pumping has increased.

Fairfield Spring discharge is controlled by the potentiometric head in the aquifer, which is controlled primarily by the volume of recharge to the aquifer. Heavy pumping from wells 2 miles north of the spring may decrease spring discharge when storage in the confined aquifer is depleted, thereby allowing the wells to lower the potentiometric level in the aquifer, and thus the discharge at the spring. No evidence of decreased spring discharge was found during years of adequate recharge.

Ground-water flow modeling currently in progress will enhance the conceptual model of the ground-water flow system.

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