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Ground-Water Pumpage and Artificial Recharge Estimates for Calendar Year 2000 and Average Annual Natural Recharge and Interbasin Flow by Hydrographic Area, Nevada

By Thomas J. Lopes and David M. Evetts

Report availability: Portable Document Format (PDF).


Nevada's reliance on ground-water resources has increased because of increased development and surface-water resources being fully appropriated. The need to accurately quantify Nevada's water resources and water use is more critical than ever to meet future demands. Estimated ground-water pumpage, artificial and natural recharge, and interbasin flow can be used to help evaluate stresses on aquifer systems. In this report, estimates of ground-water pumpage and artificial recharge during calendar year 2000 were made using data from a variety of sources, such as reported estimates and estimates made using Landsat satellite imagery. Average annual natural recharge and interbasin flow were compiled from published reports.

An estimated 1,427,100 acre-feet of ground water was pumped in Nevada during calendar year 2000. This total was calculated by summing six categories of ground-water pumpage, based on water use. Total artificial recharge during 2000 was about 145,970 acre-feet. At least one estimate of natural recharge was available for 209 of the 232 hydrographic areas (HAs). Natural recharge for the 209 HAs ranges from 1,793,420 to 2,583,150 acre-feet. Estimates of interbasin flow were available for 151 HAs.

The categories and their percentage of the total ground-water pumpage are irrigation and stock watering (47 percent), mining (26 percent), water systems (14 percent), geothermal production (8 percent), self-supplied domestic (4 percent), and miscellaneous (less than 1 percent). Pumpage in the top 10 HAs accounted for about 49 percent of the total ground-water pumpage. The most ground-water pumpage in an HA was due to mining in Pumpernickel Valley (HA 65), Boulder Flat (HA 61), and Lower Reese River Valley (HA 59). Pumpage by water systems in Las Vegas Valley (HA 212) and Truckee Meadows (HA 87) were the fourth and fifth highest pumpage in 2000, respectively. Irrigation and stock watering pumpage accounted for most ground-water withdrawals in the HAs with the sixth through ninth highest pumpage. Geothermal production accounted for most pumpage in the Carson Desert (HA 101).

Reinjection of ground water pumped for geothermal energy production accounted for about 64 percent (93,310 acre-feet) of the total artificial recharge. The only artificial recharge by water systems was in Las Vegas Valley, where 29,790 acre-feet of water from the Colorado River was injected into the aquifer system. Artificial recharge by mining totaled 22,870 acre-feet.

Net ground-water flow was estimated only for the 143 HAs with available estimates of both natural recharge and interbasin flow. Of the 143 estimates, 58 have negative net ground-water flow, indicating that ground-water storage could be depleted if pumpage continues at the same rate. The State has designated HAs where permitted ground-water rights approach or exceed the estimated average annual recharge. Ten HAs were identified that are not designated and have a net ground-water flow between -1,000 to -35,000 acre-feet. Due to uncertainties in recharge, the water budgets for these HAs may need refining to determine if ground-water storage is being depleted.

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