The C aquifer is a regionally extensive multiple-aquifer system supplying water for municipal, agricultural, and industrial use in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. An increase in groundwater withdrawals from the C aquifer coupled with ongoing drought conditions in the study area increase the potential for drawdown within the aquifer. A decrease in the water table and potentiometric surface of C aquifer is illustrated locally by the drying up of Obed Meadows, a natural peat deposit, and Hugo Meadows, a natural wetland, both south of Joseph City, Arizona. Continual increase in water use from the C aquifer, including a planned increase in pumpage by the City of Flagstaff, is justification for continued monitoring of the C-aquifer system in order to quantify physical and chemical responses to pumping stresses. Fifteen of the 35 C-aquifer wells analyzed had water-level data sufficient for percentage difference calculation for 2005-11. Change in water level as a percentage of the initial water-level measurement for these 15 wells ranged from about -0.2 to about -0.5 percent. For historical water-level data, changes in water levels were greatest around pumping centers, as indicated by a -97.0 feet (percentage difference of -16.5 percent) change over the period of record (1962-2005) for the Lake Mary 1 Well near Flagstaff, Arizona. In more rural areas of the C aquifer, water levels showed less change for both the temporal focus of this report (2005-11) and for historical values. Continuous records of surface-water discharge from 2005 to 2007 for three discontinued streamflow-gaging stations (Clear Creek near Winslow, AZ, 09399000; Clear Creek below McHood Lake near Winslow, AZ, 09399100; and Chevelon Creek near Winslow, AZ, 09398000) were tabulated. For the period of record, Clear Creek near Winslow, AZ, and Chevelon Creek near Winslow, AZ, showed seasonal discharge distributions indicative of natural streams in the southwestern United States. Clear Creek below McHood Lake near Winslow, AZ showed discharge distribution indicative of perennial spring flow; with little variation annually. Physical and chemical data collected during four baseflow investigations (summer 2005, summer 2006, summer 2008, and winter 2010) conducted on Clear Creek, Chevelon Creek, and a portion of the Little Colorado River were compiled and analyzed. Data from 7 sampling sites established on the Little Colorado River, 11 sites along Chevelon Creek, and 14 sites along Clear Creek were included. For the four baseflow investigations presented, a 2,000-3,000 microsiemens per centimeter increase in specific conductance was measured in Chevelon Creek from near its headwaters to the confluence with the Little Colorado River because of the contribution of highly conductive spring discharge. Clear Creek showed a less consistent pattern of increase in specific conductance with distance, but still exhibited changes on the order of 5,000 microsiemens per centimeter over just a few river miles. Water-chemistry data for selected wells and baseflow investigations sites are presented. No well samples analyzed exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Maximum Contaminant Level standards for drinking water, but several samples exceeded Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level standards for chloride, fluoride, sulfate, iron, and total dissolved solids.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Groundwater, surface-water, and water-chemistry data from C-aquifer monitoring program, northeastern Arizona, 2005-11
Version 1.0: Originally posted December 2012; Version 1.1: March 2013