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This report is available online in pdf format (1 MB): USGS OFR 00–453 ()
National Water-Quality Assessment Program
By B.E. Thomas and Margot Truini
The N aquifer is the major source of water in the 5,400-square-mile area of Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona. Availability of water is an important issue in this area because of continued industrial and municipal use, a growing population, and a precipitation of only about 6 to 12 inches per year.
The monitoring program in Black Mesa has been operating since 1971 and is designed to determine the long-term effects of ground-water withdrawals from the N aquifer for industrial and municipal uses. The monitoring program includes measurements of (1) ground-water pumping, (2) ground-water levels, (3) spring discharge, (4) surface-water discharge, and (5) ground-water chemistry.
In 1999, total ground-water withdrawals were 7,110 acre-feet, industrial use was 4,210 acre-feet, and municipal use was 2,900 acre-feet. From 1998 to 1999, total withdrawals increased by 0.7 percent, industrial use increased by 4 percent, and municipal use decreased by 4 percent.
From 1998 to 1999, water levels declined in 11 of 15 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer, and the median decline was 0.7 foot. Water levels declined in 14 of 16 wells in the confined part of the aquifer, and the median decline was 1.2 feet.
From the prestress period (prior to 1965) to 1999, the median water-level decline in 31 wells was 10.6 feet. Median water-level changes were 0.0 foot for 15 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer and a decline of 45.5 feet in 16 wells in the confined part.
From 1998 to 1999, discharges were measured annually at four springs. Discharges declined 30 percent and 3 percent at 2 springs, did not change at 1 spring, and increased by 11 percent at 1 spring. For the past 10 years, discharges from the four springs have fluctuated; however, an increasing or decreasing trend was not observed.
Continuous records of surface-water discharge have been collected from July 1976 to 1999 at Moenkopi Wash, July 1996 to 1999 at Laguna Creek, June 1993 to 1999 at Dinnebito Wash, and April 1994 to 1999 at Polacca Wash. Median flows for November, December, January, and February of each water year are used as an index of ground-water discharge to those streams. Increasing or decreasing trends are not apparent in these median winter flows for the periods of record.
In 1999, water samples were collected from 12 wells and 4 springs and analyzed for selected chemical constituents. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 91 to 630 milligrams per liter. Water samples from 10 of the wells and the 4 springs had less than 350 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids. Water-chemistry data are available for nine wells and four springs from about the mid-1980s. For that time period, the data from those sites have remained fairly stable. From 1987 to 1999, concentrations of dissolved solids, chloride, and sulfate may have increased slightly in samples from Moenkopi School Spring.
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