Ephemeral Flow and Water Quality Problems: A Case Study of the San Pedro River in Southeastern Arizona
AuthorKeith, S. J.
AffiliationDepartment of Hydrology and Water Resources Administration, University of Arizona, Tucson
KeywordsHydrology -- Arizona.
Water resources development -- Arizona.
Hydrology -- Southwestern states.
Water resources development -- Southwestern states.
San Pedro River
Water pollution sources
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RightsCopyright ©, where appropriate, is held by the author.
Collection InformationThis article is part of the Hydrology and Water Resources in Arizona and the Southwest collections. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science and the University of Arizona Libraries. For more information about items in this collection, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
PublisherArizona-Nevada Academy of Science
AbstractDiscontinuous 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.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Modeling of ground-water flow and surface water/ground-water interactions of the San Pedro River Basin, Cochise County, ArizonaMaddock, Thomas, III; Vionnet, Leticia Beatriz (The University of Arizona., 1992)Ground-water exploitation in the Upper San Pedro Basin has produced the formation of a cone of depression around the Sierra Vista-Fort Huachuca area. A portion of the mountain front recharge that otherwise would reach the San Pedro River is being intercepted by pumping, and portions of baseflow are being captured by pumping. The purpose of this study is to construct a simulation model capable of simulating the ground-water system as well as the ground-water-surface water interactions. The flow simulation was done by a three-dimensional, finite-difference ground-water flow model (MODFLOW) that incorporates a new stream-aquifer interaction package. Steady state simulations were performed to represent mean annual conditions. Transient simulations cover a 48 year period, starting in 1940 and ending in 1988. A sensitivity analysis of the steady state model was also performed.
Flow and water quality relations between surface water and ground water in the Puerco River basin near Chambers, ArizonaNeuman, Shlomo P.; Van Metre, Peter Chapman, 1956- (The University of Arizona., 1990)The Puerco River is an ephemeral stream that received effluent from uranium-mine dewatering operations from the 1950's until 1962 and from 1968 until mining ceased in 1986. Flow and water-quality relations between the Puerco River and the alluvial aquifer underlying it were investigated at a site near Chambers. Data collection included installing and sampling nine monitor wells and two drive points; monitoring stage and sampling surface water; and slug testing wells. The stream recharges the alluvial aquifer during periods of flow and the streambed is a location of ground-water discharge by evapotranspiration during periods of no flow. Discharge by evapotranspiration may exceed recharge thus reducing the potential for contaminant movement away from the river by advective transport. Geochemical modeling indicates that uranium minerals are undersaturated in the range in Eh observed. A +0.84 correlation was calculated relating dissolved uranium concentration to depth in monitor wells suggesting the stream is a source of uranium to the alluvial aquifer. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)
A GEOCHEMICAL APPROACH TO DETERMINE GROUND-WATER FLOW PATTERNS IN THE SIERRA VISTA BASIN, ARIZONA, WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON GROUND-WATER/SURFACE-WATER INTERACTIONMaddock, Thomas, III; Coes, Alissa L. (The University of Arizona., 1997)Water quality in the Sierra Vista Ground-Water Basin is of extreme importance due to the basin's unique ecosystem and predicted future population growth. Portions of the Upper San Pedro River, flowing through the Sierra Vista Basin, contain some of the few remaining perennial streamflows in the southwest. Baseflow in the perennial reaches of the river are maintained almost entirely by the regional and floodplain aquifer systems. A population increase is predicted for the Sierra Vista Basin, and an impact on groundwater quality and availability can be expected. Due to the closely linked hydrologic systems within the basin, contamination or depletion of the regional aquifer could have direct implications for the San Pedro River. Water samples were collected within the study area from the regional and floodplain aquifers, the San Pedro River, and a bedrock spring in the Huachuca Mountains. Samples were analyzed for field parameters, major-ions, and stable isotopes to describe the main chemical characteristics of the hydrologic systems within the basin. Analysis of regional aquifer geochemistry indicates a ground-water system strongly controlled by calcite precipitation. Specific conductance, deuterium and oxygen-18 values indicate a mixing of regional-aquifer ground water and San Pedro River surface water within the floodplain aquifer. Estimates of inflow to perennial reaches of the floodplain aquifer from the regional aquifer vary from 50 to 80%, depending on location. Inflow to the San Pedro River at Charleston from the regional aquifer is estimated to be about 50 to 70% of the stream discharge.