Arizona Water Science Center

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Arizona Department of Water Resources

U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2008-1324
version 1.0

Ground-Water, Surface-Water, and Water-Chemistry Data, Black Mesa Area, Northeastern Arizona—2006–07

By Margot Truini and J.P. Macy


photo of dark-colored mesa in background with well and antenna in dry vegetation in foreground
Photograph of Black Mesa observation well number 1. Photograph by Margot Truini.


The N aquifer is the major source of water in the 5,400 square-mile Black Mesa area in northeastern Arizona. Availability of water is an important issue in northeastern Arizona because of continued water requirements for industrial and municipal use and the needs of a growing population. Precipitation in the Black Mesa area is typically about 6 to 14 inches per year.

The water-monitoring program in the Black Mesa area began in 1971 and is designed to provide information about the long-term effects of ground-water withdrawals from the N aquifer for industrial and municipal uses. This report presents results of data collected for the monitoring program in the Black Mesa area from January 2006 to September 2007. The monitoring program includes measurements of (1) ground-water withdrawals, (2) ground-water levels, (3) spring discharge, (4) surface-water discharge, and (5) ground-water chemistry. Periodic testing of ground-water withdrawal meters is completed every 4 to 5 years.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) yearly totals for the ground-water metered withdrawal data were unavailable in 2006 due to an up-grade within the NTUA computer network. Because NTUA data is often combined with Bureau of Indian Affairs data for the total withdrawals in a well system, withdrawals will not be published in this yearŐs annual report.

From 2006 to 2007, annually measured water levels in the Black Mesa area declined in 3 of 11 wells measured in the unconfined areas of the N aquifer, and the median change was 0.0 feet. Measurements indicated that water levels declined in 8 of 17 wells measured in the confined area of the aquifer. The median change for the confined area of the aquifer was 0.2 feet. From the prestress period (prior to 1965) to 2007, the median water-level change for 30 wells was -11.1 feet. Median water-level changes were 2.9 feet for 11 wells measured in the unconfined areas and -40.2 feet for 19 wells measured in the confined area.

Spring flow was measured once in 2006 and once in 2007 at Moenkopi School Spring. Flow decreased by 18.9 percent at Moenkopi School Spring. During the period of record, flow fluctuated, and a decreasing trend was apparent.

Continuous records of surface-water discharge in the Black Mesa area have been collected from streamflow gages at the following sites: Moenkopi Wash at Moenkopi (1976 to 2006), Dinnebito Wash near Sand Springs (1993 to 2006), Polacca Wash near Second Mesa (1994 to 2006), and Pasture Canyon Springs (August 2004 to December 2006). Median flows during November, December, January, and February of each water year were used as an index of the amount of ground-water discharge to the above named sites. For the period of record at each streamflow-gaging station, the median winter flows have generally remained even, showing neither a significant increase nor decrease in flows. There is not a long enough period of record for Pasture Canyon Spring for a trend to be apparent.

In 2007, water samples were collected from 1 well and 1 spring in the Black Mesa area and were analyzed for selected chemical constituents. Concentrations of dissolved solids, chloride, and sulfate have varied at Peabody well 5 for the period of record, and there is an apparent increasing trend. Dissolved-solids, chloride, and sulfate concentrations increased at Moenkopi School Spring during the more than 12 years of record.

Download the text of this report as a 40-page PDF file (of2008-1324.pdf; 4.7 MB)

For questions about the content of this report, contact Margot Truini

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