Nevada Water Science Center

Carson River

The Carson River begins in the Sierra Nevada as the East Fork and West Fork of the Carson River. These two forks come together in the Carson Valley, not far from Carson City, Nev. The river then flows through the Carson River Basin until its terminus at the Carson Sink. The Carson RIver is a popular recreation spot with rafters, hikers, and fishermen.

The Carson River Basin (hydrographic region 8) is about 3,900 square miles and extends about 150 miles from eastern California to pershing County, Nevada. The Carson River Basin includes the following hydrographic areas: Carson Desert, Churchill Valley, Dayton Valley, Eagle Valley, and Carson Valley. Major cities and towns with the Carson River Basin include Carson City (Nevada's capital), Dayton, Fallon, Gardnerville, and Minden.

Map of the Carson River Basin

USGS Nevada Water Science Center maintains more than 30 streamflow and lake-level gages on the Carson River.

Data

Real-Time Streamflow :: Daily Values :: Peak-Flow :: Water Quality

Research in the Carson River Basin

Algal Studies, East Fork Carson River

Evaluation of Groundwater Flow, Middle Carson River Basin

Groundwater Nitrogen Budget for Carson Valley

Mercury in the Carson River

Monitoring Sediment and Water Quality in Clear Creek

Publications

Maurer, D.K., Paul, A.p., Berger, D.L., and Mayers, C.J., 2008, Analysis of streamflow trends, ground-water and surface-water interactions, and water quality in the upper Carson River basin: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5238, 190 p.

Jeton, A.E., 2006, Flood chronology of the Carson River basin, California and Nevada web site: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2006-3102, 2 p.

Alvarez, N.A., and Seiler, R.L., 2004, Sources of phosphorus to the Carson River upstream from Lahontan Reservoir, Nevada and California, water years 2001-02: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2004-5186, 96 p.

Hoffman, R.J., and Thomas, K.A., 2000, Methylmercury in water and bottom sediment along the Carson River system, Nevada and California, September 1998: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 00-4013, 17 p.

Hess, G.W., 1999, Hydrologic data for water years 1978-97 used in daily flow-routing and river-operations models for the Upper Carson River Basin, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 99-256, 16 p.

Hess, G.W. and Taylor, R.L., 1999, River-operations model for Upper Carson River Basin, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 98-4240, 40 p.

Hoffman, R.J., and Taylor, R.L., 1998, Mercury and suspended sediment, Carson River Basin, Nevada--Loads to and from Lahontan Reservoir in flood year 1997 and deposition in reservoir prior to 1983: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-001-98, 6 p.

Williams, R.p., Crompton, E.J., and Hale, G.S., 1997, Summary of level 1 and level 2 analyses of bridge scour at selected sites in the Carson River Basin, Nevada, 1995-96: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 96-658-A, 26 p.

Hess, G.W., 1997, Simulation of selected river diversion operations in the upper Carson River Basin, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-240-96, 4 p.

Kilroy, K.C., and Watkins, S.A., 1997, pesticides in surface water, bottom sediment, crayfish, and shallow groundwater in Las Vegas Valley area, Carson River Basin, and Truckee River Basin, Nevada and California, 1992-95: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-075-97, 6 p.

Welch, A.H., Lawrence, S.J., Lico, M.S., Thomas, J.M., and Schaefer, D.H., 1997, Ground-water quality assessment of the Carson River Basin, Nevada and California--Results of investigations, 1987-91: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply paper 2356-A, 93 p.

Thomas, K.A., and Williams, R.p., 1997, Flood of January 1997 in the Carson River Basin, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-183-97, 2 p.

Hess, G.W., 1996, progress report on daily flow-routing simulation for the Carson River, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 96-211, 41 p

Smith, J.L., and Reece, B.D., 1995, Watershed characterization for precipitation runoff modeling system, North Fork American River and East Fork Carson River watersheds, California: U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Investigations Atlas HA-734, 1 sheet.

Bohman, L.R., Berris, S.N., and Hess, G.W., 1995, Interactive computer program to simulate and analyze streamflow, Truckee and Carson River Basins, Nevada and California: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet FS-165-95, 4 p.

Whitney, Rita, 1994, Data on ground-water quality in the Carson River Basin, western Nevada and eastern California, 1987-90: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 94-39, 182 p.

Trionfante, J.V., and peltz, L.A., 1994, Hydrologic features of the Truckee and Carson River Basins and adjacent areas, western Nevada and eastern California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 93-368, 1 sheet.

Thomas, J.M., Welch, A.H., Lico, M.S., Hughes, J.L., and Whitney, Rita, 1993, Radionuclides in groundwater of the Carson River Basin, western Nevada and eastern California, U.S.A.: Applied Geochemistry, v. 8, no. 5, p. 447-471.

August, M.H., Jacoboni, J.M., Jeton, A.E., parker, R.S., pupacko, Alex, Ruddy, B.C., Smith, J.L., and Redmond, K.T., 1992, Hydrologic and climatic data bases used to assess potential effects of climate change on water resources of American River, Carson River, and Truckee River Basins, California-Nevada, and of Gunnison River Basin, Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 92-627, 72 p.

Welch, A.H., Thomas, J.M., and Gunderson, L.S., 1990, Distribution and sources of uranium in groundwater in the Carson River Basin, western Nevada and eastern California, U.S.A. [abs.]: Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 71, no. 43, p. 1305.

Thomas, J.M., Welch, A.H., and Gunderson, L.S., 1990, Distribution and sources of radon-222 in groundwater in the Carson River Basin, western Nevada and eastern California, U.S.A. [abs.]: Eos Transactions, American Geophysical Union, v. 71, no. 43, p. 1305.

Cobb, E.D., Olson, A.F., Moosburner, Otto, and pupacko, Alex, 1990, Review of selected water-management models and results of simulations for the Truckee-Carson Rivers system, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 90-393, 40 p.

Welch, A.H., plume, R.W., Frick, E.A., and Hughes, J.L., 1989, Ground-water-quality assessment of the Carson River Basin, Nevada and California-Analysis of available water-quality data through 1987: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 89-382, 115 p.

Welch, A.H., and plume, R.W., 1987, Water-quality assessment of the Carson River ground-water basin, Nevada and California-project description: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 87-104, 27 p.

Garcia, K.T., and Carman, R.L., 1986, Water-quality characteristics and nutrient and suspended-sediment loads, Carson River and Truckee Canal, western Nevada, water year 1980: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Resources Investigations Report 85-4147, 107 p.

Brown, W.M., III, Nowlin, J.O., Smith, L.H., and Flint, M.R., 1986, River-quality assessment of the Truckee and Carson River system, California and Nevada-Hydrologic characteristics: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 84-576, 201 p.

Katzer, Terry, and Bennett, J.p., 1983, Sediment transport model for the East Fork of the Carson River, Carson Valley, Nevada: Tenth International Symposium on Urban Hydrology, Hydraulics, and Sediment Control, Lexington, Ky., July 1983, proceedings, p. 421-435.

Katzer, Terry, and Bennett, J.p., 1980, Sediment transport model for the east fork of the Carson River, Carson Valley, Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 80-160, 35 p.

Nowlin, J.O., Brown, W.M., III, Smith, L.H., and Hoffman, R.J., 1980, planning and design of studies for river-quality assessment in the Truckee and Carson River Basins, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 80-435, 75 p.

Glancy, p.A., and Katzer, T.L., 1976, Water-resources appraisal of the Carson River Basin, western Nevada: Nevada Division of Water Resources, Reconnaissance Report 59, 126 p.

Matthai, H.F., 1975, Long-term flow of the Carson River in California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 75-143, 10 p.

pumphrey, H.L., 1955, Water-power resources in upper Carson River Basin, California-Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply paper 1329-A, 29 p.

Floods

Flooding occurs fairly often in the Carson River Basin. Floods in the Basin are either main channel flooding, localized (flash) flooding, or debris flows. Main channel flooding is usually caused by a rain-on-snow event in the higher elevations. Rapid snow melt causes the river channel to fill quickly until the river overflows it banks. Localized flooding, on the other hand, usually occurs during the summer months and is caused by intense rainfall during thunderstorms. Debris flows can occur when water from rapid snowmelt or intense rainfall mixes with sediment; the texture of a debris flow often resembles wet concrete.

Flooding in Dayton Nevada 2006

A history of the flooding in the Carson River Basin can be found on the NVWSC flood chronology website:

https://nevada.usgs.gov/crfld/

This website describes floods from 1852 to the present. The website can be searched by specific event, area, or gaging station.

What's a Hydrographic Area (HA)?

In the 1960's, the USGS and the Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR) needed a way to separate the State in study areas. Rather than use county boundaries, USGS and NDWR divided the state into 253 hydrographic areas.The official HA names, numbers, and boundaries continue to be used in USGS scientific reports and NDWR administrative activities.

 

Thirteen HA's in Nevada actually are larger than Rhode Island.

 

The 253 HA's were grouped into 14 hydrographic regions by one of these three criteria: drainage basins of large regional streams, drainage basins with no large regional streams, or groups of topographically closed valleys.

 

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: https://nevada.usgs.gov/lakes_rivers/carson_river.htm
page Contact Information: Nevada Water Science Center Web Team
page Last Modified: May 1, 2012