Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Groundwater Resource Mapping

View of Canisteo Valley from a hilltop
Canisteo Valley, New York

Although many high yield bedrock formations exist in upstate New York, "the most productive aquifers ... consist of unconsolidated deposits of sand and gravel that occupy major river and stream valleys or lake plains and terraces. Ground water in these aquifers occurs under water-table (unconfined) or artesian (confined) conditions. Municipalities, industries, and farms have been built over many of these aquifers because they typically form flat areas that are suitable for development and generally provide an ample ground-water supply. This development, coupled with the high permeability of these deposits and shallow depth to the water table, makes these aquifers particularly susceptible to contamination from point sources such as landfills and petroleum storage and nonpoint sources such as urban and agricultural runoff" (quote from USGS, New York).

typical geologic cross-section of shale bedrock
Typical geologic cross section.

To enhance and promote proper development, management, and protection of the unconsolidated aquifers of upstate New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation has long partnered with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to conduct research and publish reports of groundwater resources of the state. USGS also partners with various local agencies. The distribution and hydrogeologic characteristics of the unconsolidated aquifers are presented at the 1:250,000 scale in a series of five maps published in 1988 on a cooperative basis between the USGS and DEC. These reports are available on the USGS webpage titled "Unconsolidated Aquifers in Upstate New York, 1:250,000 Scale" (leaving NYSDEC webpages).

A New York state map of aquifers
Click image to go to USGS webpages for larger, version of map.

Clicking on delineated areas will open map reports.

Beginning in 1980 and continuing through today, the USGS has partnered with DEC and other entities to produce more than 40 detailed hydrogeologic maps for selected aquifers at the 1:24,000 scale. The small map to the left shows the project areas mapped at this scale. Click it to be taken to the USGS map and bibliography of these projects. Click on any of the delineated areas to open its map report. These aquifer map reports generally include a series of 1:24,000 scale maps showing aquifer boundaries, surficial geology, location of wells and test holes, aquifer thickness, the water-table or potentiometric surface, and pertinent discussion.

GIS Data Set

A GIS data set containing the mapping of 1:24,000 scale Primary and Principal Aquifers (outside link leaving DEC's website) is available at the NYS GIS Clearinghouse. Enhancements were made to these maps to create digital, georeferenced map layers. The digital map layers contain original mapping units and aquifer boundaries as well as new standardized mapping units and updated aquifer boundaries. The original published aquifer maps contain additional base and geologic information not included in these map layers.

Additionally a GIS coverage for 1:250,000 scale Principal Aquifers (outside link leaving DEC's website) is also available at the NYS GIS Clearinghouse.