• Use and Abuse of Southwestern Rivers: Historic Man - The Spaniard

      Polzer, Charles W.; Southwestern Mission Research Center, Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      The early Spanish explorers did not lean toward rivers and boats. Bred in the culture of an arid land, they naturally explored with horses or by foot, leaving boats and rafts to the English and French. No historical records reveal any Spanish desires or attempts to control river flow or harness desert water resources on any appreciable scale. Yet they transformed the Sonoran desert into a productive garden land never before achieved by indigenous peoples. Pueblos were built on river banks where alluvial fans could be easily irrigated. Small arroyo check dams diverted water into wells and town tanks, while larger diversion dams were built to draw water into canals for crop irrigation. The dams were designedly weak and efficient only to the point of diverting sufficient water for the pueblo. There is no concept of storing water in reservoirs or lakes for periods of scarcity, but only of tapping enough water during periods of excess flow. All surplus water was allowed to flow downstream for the use of others in their struggle for survival. In this way the Spanish achieved a balance between human needs and the limited resources of the desert. The records of the Mexicans and the Anglos have been much more exploitive and destructive.
    • Use and Abuse of Southwestern Rivers: The Desert Farmer

      Ayres, J. E.; Arizona State Museum, University of Arizona, Tucson (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      The pre-Columbian Hohokam Indians occupied the major river drainages of central Arizona, and have been the subject of much intense archaeological research. Evidence indicates that the Hohokam began using river water for crop irrigation about 300 B.C., and modified and improved their irrigation systems over time, until the maximum extent of these systems was achieved about 900 a. D. Two types of water control seem to have been utilized: (1) the direct exploitation of rivers through the use of irrigation canals, (2) indirect use through controlled runoff within microdrainages at higher elevations before it reached the rivers. At first, probably only those parcels of land with optimal soils and drainage were used, but apparently population increases fostered by agriculture itself, combined with increasing social and political complexity, necessitated more and more exploitation of marginal lands. Eventually soil problems increased, imposing severe limitations on agriculture. These involved salt and alkali accumulation due to inadequate drainage, soil density and water logging. Additionally, the extension of cropping required the clearing of natural vegetation, which resulted in increased erosion and decreased available native food resources for periods when crops failed. The culture vanished completely about 1450 a. D., probably mainly because of their manner of river exploitation for irrigation. More recent archaeological studies are concentrating not only on river use but also on river abuse.
    • Use and Abuse of Southwestern Rivers: The Pueblo Dweller

      DiPeso, Charles C.; The Amerind Foundation, Inc., Dragoon, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      In response to the 20th century crisis of environmental destruction by unrestricted technological exploitation, some archaeologists are studying alternative modes of resource development as practiced by earlier men. The pueblo Indians of the arid southwestern deserts were basically upland corn farmers, who, after A.D. 1000, found it necessary to exploit their environment because of varying combinations of climatic change and increased population pressures. In the northeastern part of the state of Chihuahua, urban engineers, ca 1050, harnessed the entire Casas Grandes dendritic pattern by installing a set of linked hydraulic appointments which included various upslope protective devices such as linear border, check dams and riverside and hillside terraces. Not only were they able to visualize an entire dendritic pattern as the target area, but also they were able to conceive of rainfall and topsoil as a single factor in their control designs. Although large amounts of human labor were needed to construct and maintain these systems, few raw materials were needed. When the mountain-born waters reached the lower valleys, they were clear and sluggish, did not flood the bottomlands, and because of the reduced speed, could easily be diverted into canals and reservoirs, supplying the cities with domestic water and the farmers with irrigation water. Many further studies are needed of these pre-Columbian systems.
    • The Use of a Realistic Rainfall Simulator to Determine Relative Infiltration Rates of Contributing Watersheds to the Lower Gila Below Painted Rock Dam

      Cluff, C. B.; Boyer, D. G.; Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona; Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      The rotadisk rainulator is a recently developed rainfall simulator utilizing a full-cone-spray type nozzle. Its unique feature is the rotation of disks of various size openings that makes it possible to produce intensities from close to zero up to full nozzle capacity. Disks may be quickly changed, making it possible to study the effects of various intensities on infiltration rates, such as occur in natural storms. For all intensities above 1.0 in/hr, the instrument comes closer to duplicating kinetic energies and momenta of natural rainfall than any other type of rainfall simulator. Little rainfall-runoff data are available on most of the Lower Gila watersheds. Infiltration rates were therefore determined using the rotadisk rainulator on recompacted soil samples from the watershed. The results permitted a ranking of the watersheds on the basis of infiltration rates, which supports an independent flood frequency analysis indicating that the flood threat from subwatersheds along the Gila is much lower than had previously been projected. When the instrument is taken into the field, it should be possible to directly determine the infiltration rates of different soil and vegetation types, which will be of more use to hydrologists than data from recompacted samples
    • The Use of Chemical Hydrographs in Groundwater Quality Studies

      Schmidt, Kenneth D.; Harshbarger and Associates, Tucson, Arizona (Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science, 1971-04-23)
      High nitrates in drinking water are significant in relation to an infant disease, methemoglobinemia, and the U.S. public health service has set a limit of 45 ppm for human consumption. This paper illustrates how chemical hydrographs were used in a study of nitrates in the groundwater of the Fresno-Clovis metropolitan area (F.C.M.A.) of semiarid central California. The area comprises about 145 square miles, with a population of 310,000. Urban water use is entirely derived from wells, whereas the surrounding agriculture relies on surface and ground water. In 1965, the California department of water resources noted nitrate concentrations in the F.C.M.A. were exceeding the safe limit. A number of sources of error in chemical analyses of water quality are noted. A measure of the accuracies of analyses and a method of double-checking anomalous results is furnished by plotting chemical hydrographs of individual wells. Seasonal changes in nitrate were consistent for many parts of the area, and were related to hydrogeologic factors and parameters directly affecting nitrification. Nitrate hydrographs were monitored by chloride hydrographs. The highest nitrate concentrations were in the shallower parts of the aquifer, and well deepening and changes in water level, pumping patterns and recharge rates complicated interpretations. However, the hydrographs helped to pinpoint the source of nitrate in areas where several possible sources were present.