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Estimated Ground-Water Withdrawals from the Death Valley Regional Flow System, Nevada and California, 1913-98

By Michael T. Moreo, Keith J. Halford, Richard J. La Camera, and Randell J. Laczniak

Report availability: Portable Document Format (PDF).


Ground-water withdrawals from 1913 through 1998 from the Death Valley regional flow system have been compiled to support a regional, three-dimensional, transient ground-water flow model. Withdrawal locations and depths of production intervals were estimated and associated errors were reported for 9,300 wells. Withdrawals were grouped into three categories: mining, public-supply, and commercial water use; domestic water use; and irrigation water use. In this report, groupings were based on the method used to estimate pumpage.

Cumulative ground-water withdrawals from 1913 through 1998 totaled 3 million acre-feet, most of which was used to irrigate alfalfa. Annual withdrawal for irrigation ranged from 80 to almost 100 percent of the total pumpage. About 75,000 acre-feet was withdrawn for irrigation in 1998. Annual irrigation withdrawals generally were estimated as the product of irrigated acreage and application rate.

About 320 fields totaling 11,000 acres were identified in six hydrographic areas. Annual application rates for high water-use crops ranged from 5 feet in Penoyer Valley to 9 feet in Pahrump Valley. The uncertainty in the estimates of ground-water withdrawals was attributed primarily to the uncertainty of application rate estimates. Annual ground-water withdrawal was estimated at about 90,000 acre-feet in 1998 with an assigned uncertainty bounded by 60,000 to 130,000 acre-feet.

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