• Ephemeral Flow and Water Quality Problems: A Case Study of the San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona

      Keith, S. J.; Department of Hydrology and Water Resources Administration, University of Arizona, Tucson (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1978-04-15)
      Discontinuous water quality data for the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona is analyzed to illustrate the nature of water quality problems of ephemeral flow. The San Pedro drains a northerly-trending basin of 4,483 square miles, of which 696 are in Mexico and 3,787 in Arizona. Several questions arise in the consideration of a rational management plan: what is the necessity for protection of ephemeral flow quality when the channel consists of a dry wash much of the year, where there is little aquatic or wildlife to protect, and where occasional flow during flood conditions is put to little use by humans; and where and how do we use the ephemeral flow it is indeed decided to utilize it. Such questions as these form the basis of this discussion in an effort to bring out the point that water quality problems of ephemeral flow in arid areas differ from those in the humid zone. It is argued that in between the extremes of prohibiting or treating all runoff or eliminating all sources of pollution, there is actually little that can be done to control all sources of pollution in this typical arid stream, despite the fact that standards, for the most part unattainable, have been set for this flow.