A chloride-balance method for estimating average natural recharge to groundwater basins in the Basin and Range Province of the western United States may be a useful alternative or complement to current techniques. The chloride-balance method, as presented in this paper, equates chloride in recharge water and runoff to chloride deposited in mountainous recharge-source areas by precipitation and dry fallout. Given estimates of annual precipitation on these source areas and chloride concentrations of bulk precipitation and recharge water, the rate of recharge can be estimated providing that: (1) no other major sources of chloride exist; (2) direct runoff to discharge areas in the basin is small or can otherwise be taken in account in the balance; and (3) the recharge sources for the basin are correctly delineated. The estimates are sensitive to the estimated rate of input of chloride from the atmosphere; this is the greatest data need for future applications of the method. Preliminary applications of the method to sixteen basins in Nevada, including Las Vegas Valley, indicate that the method can be a useful tool for hydrologists and resource managers. Correlation coefficients between recharge efficiencies for the basins - estimated on the basis of recharge estimates that use the chloride-balance method and two other currently used techniques - range from 0.54 to 0.95, depending on assumptions about where the method may be applied. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Reconnaissance estimates of natural recharge to desert basins in Nevada, U.S.A., by using chloride-balance calculations