The Mogollon Highlands of east central Arizona is a region of forested plateau and mountains, deep, sheerwalled canyons, and desert valleys. Known for its scenic beauty and characterized by a generally mild climate, the area, though still sparsely populated, attracts an increasing number of tourists and summer residents. Furthermore, the permanent population is expected to nearly double over the next 50 years. Consequently, there is increased pressure on the water resources of this area for several sometimes conflicting uses. Rational management of water resources is necessary to meet increased domestic requirements while ensuring an adequate supply of water for commercial and agricultural use, for Indian lands, and for preservation of valued environmental elements, including surface waters, riparian woodlands, forest and grassland areas, and wildlife and aquatic habitat. Such management requires an understanding of the relations among different components of the hydrologic system—recharge areas, surface flows, shallow aquifers, deep aquifers, discharge areas, and the regional ground-water flow system—and how each is affected by geology, climate, topography, and human use.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is conducting an assessment of the hydrogeology of the Mogollon Highlands in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources. The study, funded through the State’s Rural Watershed Initiative program, is one of three assessments being conducted by the USGS. Assessments also are underway in the Upper-Middle Verde River watershed and on the Coconino Plateau. Each study has as its objectives: (1) the collection, compilation, and evaluation of all existing geologic, hydrologic, and related data pertaining to the study area and the creation of a data base that is readily accessible to the public and (2) developing an understanding of the hydrogeologic framework, which is the relation between geologic and hydrologic properties, that can be used for water-- resources management purposes and that will support the development of an interpretive and predictive model to estimate the effects of climate and water use on the sustainability of regional water resources.
Although the three contiguous areas in north-central Arizona are being studied separately, a single data base is being constructed from which data on each area can be extracted separately.