The N aquifer is the major source of water in the 5,400-square-mile area of Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona. Availability of water is an important issue in this area because of continued industrial and municipal use, a growing population, and precipitation of about 6 to 14 inches per year.
The monitoring program in the Black Mesa area has been operating since 1971 and is designed to determine the long-term effects of ground-water withdrawals from the N aquifer for industrial and municipal uses. The monitoring program includes measurements of (1) ground-water pumping, (2) ground-water levels, (3) spring discharge, (4) surface-water discharge, and (5) ground-water chemistry.
In 2001, total ground-water withdrawals were 7,680 acre-feet, industrial use was 4,530 acre-feet, and municipal use was 3,150 acre-feet. From 2000 to 2001, total withdrawals decreased by 1 percent, industrial use increased by 1 percent, and municipal use decreased by 3 percent.
From 2001 to 2002, water levels declined in 5 of 14 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer, and the median change was +0.2 foot. Water levels declined in 12 of 17 wells in the confined part of the aquifer, and the median change was -1.4 feet.
From the prestress period (prior to 1965) to 2002, the median water-level change for 32 wells was -15.8 feet. Median water-level changes were -1.3 feet for 15 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer and -31.7 feet for 17 wells in the confined part.
Discharges were measured once in 2001 and once in 2002 at four springs. Discharges decreased by 26 percent and 66 percent at two springs, increased by 100 percent at one spring, and did not change at one spring. For the past 10 years, discharges from the four springs have fluctuated; however, an increasing or decreasing trend is not apparent.
Continuous records of surface-water discharge have been collected from 1976 to 2001 at Moenkopi Wash, 1996 to 2001 at Laguna Creek, 1993 to 2001 at Dinnebito Wash, and 1994 to 2001 at Polacca Wash. Median flows for November, December, January, and February of each water year were used as an index of ground-water discharge to those streams. Since 1995, the median winter flows have decreased for Moenkopi Wash, Dinnebito Wash, and Polacca Wash. Since 1997, there is no consistent trend in the median winter flow for Laguna Creek.
In 2002, water samples were collected from 12 wells and 4 springs and analyzed for selected chemical constituents. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 96 to 636 milligrams per liter. Water samples from 8 of the wells and from 3 of the springs had less than 300 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids. There are no appreciable time trends in the chemistry of water samples from 9 wells and 4 springs; the 9 wells had more than 7 years of data, and the 4 springs had more than 9 years of data.