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Open-File Report 2014–1176

Prepared in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management

Potential Effects of Existing and Proposed Groundwater Withdrawals on Water Levels and Natural Groundwater Discharge in Snake Valley, Juab and Millard Counties, Utah, White Pine County, Nevada, and Surrounding Areas in Utah and Nevada

By Melissa D. Masbruch and Philip M. Gardner

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (1.6 MB)Abstract

Applications have been filed for several water-right changes and new water rights, with total withdrawals of about 1,800 acre-feet per year, in Snake Valley near Eskdale and Partoun, Utah. The Bureau of Land Management has identified 11 sites where the Bureau of Land Management holds water rights and 7 other springs of interest that could be affected by these proposed groundwater withdrawals. This report presents a hydrogeologic analysis of areas within Snake Valley to assess the potential effects on Bureau of Land Management water rights and other springs of interest resulting from existing and proposed groundwater withdrawals. A previously developed numerical groundwater-flow model was used to quantify potential groundwater drawdown and the capture, or groundwater withdrawals that results in depletion, of natural discharge resulting from existing and proposed groundwater withdrawals within Snake Valley. Existing groundwater withdrawals were simulated for a 50-year period prior to adding the newly proposed withdrawals to bring the model from pre-development conditions to the start of 2014. After this initial 50-year period, existing withdrawals, additional proposed withdrawals, and consequent effects were simulated for periods of 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100 years.

Downward trends in water levels measured in wells indicate that the existing groundwater withdrawals in Snake Valley are affecting water levels. The numerical model simulated similar downward trends in water levels. The largest simulated drawdowns caused by existing groundwater withdrawals ranged between 10 and 26 feet and were near the centers of the agricultural areas by Callao, Eskdale, Baker, Garrison, and along the Utah-Nevada state line in southern Snake Valley. The largest simulated water-level declines were at the Bureau of Land Management water-rights sites near Eskdale, Utah, where simulated drawdowns ranged between 2 and 8 feet at the start of 2014. These results were consistent with, but lower than, observations from several wells monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey that indicated water-level declines of 6 to 18 feet near the Eskdale area since the mid-1970s and 1980s. The model cells where the simulated capture of natural groundwater discharge resulting from the existing withdrawals was greatest were those containing Kane Spring, Caine Spring, and Unnamed Spring 5, where existing groundwater withdrawals capture 13 to 29 percent of the total simulated natural discharge in these cells.

Simulated drawdown and simulated capture of natural groundwater discharge resulting from the proposed withdrawals started in as few as 5 years at seven of the sites. After 100 years, four sites showed simulated drawdowns ranging between 1 and 2 feet; eight sites showed simulated drawdowns ranging between 0.1 and 0.9 feet; and five sites showed no simulated drawdown resulting from the proposed withdrawals. The largest amounts of simulated capture of natural groundwater discharge resulting from the proposed withdrawals after 100 years were in the model cells containing Coyote Spring, Kane Spring, and Caine Spring, which had capture amounts ranging between 5.5 and 9.1 percent of the total simulated natural discharge in these cells.

First posted October 7, 2014

For additional information, contact:
Director, Utah Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2329 West Orton Circle
West Valley City, Utah 84119
http://ut.water.usgs.gov/

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Suggested citation:

Masbruch, M.D., and Gardner, P.M., 2014, Potential effects of existing and proposed groundwater withdrawals on water levels and natural groundwater discharge in Snake Valley, Juab and Millard Counties, Utah, White Pine County, Nevada, and surrounding areas in Utah and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report, 2014-1176, 24 p. https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20141176.

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)



Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Hydrogeology

Effects of Existing and Proposed Groundwater Withdrawals

Model Limitations

Appropriate Uses of the Model

Summary

References Cited

Appendix 1

Appendix 2


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