Nevada Water Science Center

Evaluation of Diamond Valley Flow System: Phase 3

The Diamond Valley Regional flow system consists of five hydrographic areas in central Nevada – Monitor Valley, Antelope Valley, Kobeh Valley, Diamond Valley and Stevens Basin.  These hydrographic areas, which cover a land area of approximately 3,110 mi2, are interconnected by ephemeral streams, subsurface flow in basin-fill aquifers, and, to a poorly understood extent, by subsurface flow in deeper carbonate-rock aquifers. The need to develop a better understanding of the regional flow system arises from likely development of groundwater for agriculture and mining and ongoing groundwater declines in Diamond Valley, the terminus of the flow system.

Long-term monitoring of hydrologic conditions are needed to evaluate changes in groundwater resources, determine the effects of hydrologic stresses to the groundwater system, forecast trends, develop groundwater models, and monitor and manage ground and surface-water resources.

New Publication Released

USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5055

Budgets and chemical characterization of groundwater for the Diamond Valley flow system, central Nevada, 2011–12

by David L. Berger, C. Justin Mayers, C. Amanda Garcia, Susan G. Buto, and Jena M. Huntington

Research Plan

This study will

  • quantify the different groundwater inflow and outflow processes for each basin and develop a conceptual model of the flow system.
    • Groundwater inflow consists of infiltration of precipitation and subsurface flow between basins.
    • Primary groundwater recharge components are precipitation that occurs in the high elevation areas and subsurface groundwater inflow. Distribution of precipitation in the Diamond Valley Flow System will be based on PRISM (Parameter-elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model) climate mapping system.
    • Primary groundwater discharge components are through ET from phreatophyte vegetation in groundwater discharge areas of the valley lowlands and subsurface outflow.
  • ET will be estimated using the eddy-covariance method.
    • Established sites (4) are in representative areas of ground-water discharge.
    • Characterize the annual variability of ET in the potential areas of groundwater discharge.
    • Different areas and types of ET will be mapped using GIS analysis and field verification.
  • Water-quality samples will be collected from selected wells and springs using established protocols documented by the USGS. These data will be used to establish baseline chemistry of groundwater and help to understand subsurface flow.
Example of the Site Mapper page

Study Area and Sites

Site maps and data (from NWISweb) for

Background

Groundwater systems are continually adjusting to short and long-term changes in climate, groundwater withdrawal, and land use. As of 1990, accumulative groundwater withdrawals of more than 1.2 million acre-ft for irrigation (Arteaga and others, 1995, p. 5) have caused large water-level declines in southern Diamond Valley. Diamond Valley is the most developed hydrographic area in, and is the terminus of, the Diamond Valley flow system. Groundwater development within the other hydrographic areas is currently limited to small ranch operations and scattered stock wells.

Local government, irrigators, and private citizens are concerned that the water resources within the Diamond Valley flow system have become increasingly susceptible to out of basin development or mining that could cause long-term impacts to existing users. Eureka County and Diamond Valley irrigators are particularly concerned about potential groundwater development in Kobeh Valley. Eureka County is concerned that groundwater could be pumped in excess of the perennial yield causing an overdraft in Kobeh Valley, similar to conditions that have occurred in Diamond Valley (Harrill, 1968).

In order to make the most informed decisions concerning future groundwater development, Eureka County initiated a phased evaluation of the water resources of the Diamond Valley flow system. This phased evaluation began in 2004 and is a cooperative water-resources investigation between USGS, Eureka, Lander, and Nye Counties, and the Nevada Division of Water Resources to provide an understanding of the Diamond Valley groundwater flow system.

Publications

Arteaga, F.E., Smith, J.L., and Harrill, J.R., 1995, Irrigated croplands, estimated pumpage, and water-level changes in Diamond Valley, Eureka and Elko Counties, Nevada, through 1990: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 95–107, 68 p.

Eakin, T.E., 1962, Ground-water appraisal of Diamond Valley, Eureka and Elko Counties, Nevada: Carson City, Nev., Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Ground-Water Resources, Reconnaissance Report 6, 60 p.

Harrill, J.R., 1968, Hydrologic response to irrigation pumping in Diamond Valley, Eureka and Elko Counties, Nevada, 1950–65: Carson City, Nev., Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,Water Resources Bulletin 35, 85 p.

Harrill, J.R., Gates, J.S., and Thomas, J.M., 1988, Major groundwater flow systems in the Great Basin region of Nevada, Utah, and adjacent states: U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Investigations Atlas HA-694-C.

Knochenmus, L.A., Berger, D.L., Moreo, M.T., and Smith, J.L., 2011, Data network, collection, and analysis in the Diamond Valley flow system, central Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1089, 24 p.

Rush, F.E., and Everett, D.E., 1964, Ground-water appraisal of Monitor, Antelope, and Kobeh Valleys, Nevada: Carson City, Nev., Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Ground-water Resources, Reconnaissance Report 30, 45 p.

Tumbusch, M.T., and Plume, R.W., 2006, Hydrogeologic framework and groundwater in basin fill deposits of the Diamond Valley flow system, central Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5249, 38 p.

 USGS scientists Justin Mayers and LaRue Smith measuring a well in Diamond Valley

Quick Facts

 

Location: Central Nevada

Start Date: 2009

End Date: 2013

Cooperator: Eureka County

Contact Information

 

Justin Mayers

USGS Nevada Water Science Center

2730 N. Deer Run Rd.

Carson City, NV 89701

phone: (775) 887-7715

Email: cjmayers@usgs.gov

 

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