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Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5099

Scientific Investigations Report 2007-5099

Application of the Basin Characterization Model to Estimate In-Place Recharge and Runoff Potential in the Basin and Range Carbonate-Rock Aquifer System, White Pine County, Nevada, and Adjacent Areas in Nevada and Utah

By Alan L. Flint and Lorraine E. Flint


A regional-scale water-balance model was used to estimate recharge and runoff potential and support U.S. Geological Survey efforts to develop a better understanding of water availability for the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifer system (BARCAS) study in White Pine County, Nevada, and adjacent areas in Nevada and Utah. The water-balance model, or Basin Characterization Model (BCM), was used to estimate regional ground-water recharge for the 13 hydrographic areas in the study area. The BCM calculates recharge by using a distributed-parameter, water-balance method and monthly climatic boundary conditions. The BCM requires geographic information system coverages of soil, geology, and topographic information with monthly time-varying climatic conditions of air temperature and precipitation. Potential evapotranspiration, snow accumulation, and snowmelt are distributed spatially with process models. When combined with surface properties of soil-water storage and saturated hydraulic conductivity of bedrock and alluvium, the potential water available for in-place recharge and runoff is calculated using monthly time steps using a grid scale of 866 feet (270 meters). The BCM was used with monthly climatic inputs from 1970 to 2004, and results were averaged to provide an estimate of the average annual recharge for the BARCAS study area. The model estimates 526,000 acre-feet of potential in-place recharge and approximately 398,000 acre-feet of potential runoff. Assuming 15 percent of the runoff becomes recharge, the model estimates average annual ground-water recharge for the BARCAS area of about 586,000 acre-feet. When precipitation is extrapolated to the long-term climatic record (18952006), average annual recharge is estimated to be 530,000 acre-feet, or about 9 percent less than the recharge estimated for 19702004.


Estimates of Regional Ground-water Recharge Based on the Basin Characterization Model
References Cited

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Send questions or comments about this report to the authors, A.L. Flint, (916) 278-3221, and L.E. Flint, (916) 278-3223.

For more information about USGS activities in Nevada, visit the USGS Nevada Science Center home page.

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