Hydrogeology of the western part of the Salt River Valley area, Maricopa County, Arizona

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4202

Prepared in cooperation with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Salt River Project, and Arizona Municipal Water Users' Association



The Salt River Valley is a major population and agricultural center of more than 3,000 mi2 in central Arizona (fig. 1). The western part of the Salt River Valley area (area of this report) covers about 1,500 mi2. The Phoenix metropolitan area with a population of more than 1.6 million in 1985 (Valley National Bank, 1987) is located within the valley. The watersheds of the Salt, Verde, and Agua Fria Rivers provide the valley with a reliable but limited surface-water supply that must be augmented with ground water even in years of plentiful rainfall. Large-scale ground-water withdrawals began in the Salt River Valley in the early part of the 20th century; between 1915 and 1983, the total estimated ground-water pumpage was 81 million acre-ft (U.S. Geological Survey, 1984). Because of the low average annual rainfall and high potential evapotranspiration, the principal sources of ground-water recharge are urban runoff, excess irrigation, canal seepage and surface-water flows during years of higher-than-normal rainfall. Withdrawals greatly exceed recharge and, in some area, ground-water levels have declines as much as 350 ft (Laney and other, 1978; Ross, 1978). In the study area, ground-water declines of more than 300 ft have occurred in Deer Valley and from Luke Air Force Base north to Beardsley. As a result, a large depression of the water table has developed west of Luke Air Force Base (fig. 2). Ground-water use has decreased in recent years because precipitation and surface-water supplies have been greater than normal. Increased precipitation also caused large quantities of runoff to be released into the normally dry Salt and Gila River channels. From February 1978 to June 1980, streamflow losses of at least 90,000 acre-ft occurred between Jointhead Dam near the east boundary of the study area and Gillespie Dam several miles southwest of the west edge of the study area (Mann and Rhone, 1983). Consequently, ground-water declines in a large part of the basin have slowed, and ground-water levels in some sarea have risen significantly. In many areas along the Salt River and northeast of the confluence of the Salt and Agua Fria River, ground-water levels rose more than 25 ft between 1978 and 1984 (Reeter and Remick, 1986).

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Hydrogeology of the western part of the Salt River Valley area, Maricopa County, Arizona
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
4 Plates: 45.81 x 39.54 inches and smaller
United States
Maricopa County
Other Geospatial:
Salt River Valley