This report presents a summary of the detailed scientific study of Stillwater Wildlife Management Area and other nearby wetlands in west-central Nevada during 1987-90. The work was funded by the National Irrigation Water Quality Program of the U.S. Department of the Interior with the overall objectives of determining (1) the extent, magnitude, and effects of selected water-quality constituents associated with irrigation drainage on fish, wildlife, and human health, and (2) the sources and exposure pathways that cause contamination where adverse effects are documented. Much of the information in this report was summarized from two previously published interpretive reports that were completed to fulfill study objectives. Where applicable, data for the study area from other published sources also were utilized. The results of these studies indicate that the aquatic biota in natural wetlands of the Carson Desert are adversely affected by hydrological and geochemical sources and processes in the Newlands Irrigation Project area. Reactions between water and naturally occurring minerals in the shallow alluvial aquifer increase concentrations of potentially toxic constituents in ground water that eventually enters the wetlands. Once in the wetlands, these constituents are furhter concentrated by evaporation and transpiration. Water from some agricultural drains that enter Stillwater WMA was acutely toxic to aquatic organisms. The drains in the agricultural areas, which eventually discharge to the wetlands, were also implicated as sites of uptake of selenium and mercury by aquatic organisms.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Detailed study of irrigation drainage in and near wildlife management areas, west-central Nevada, 1987-90; Part C, Summary of irrigation-drainage effects on water quality, bottom sediment, and biota
Water-Resources Investigations Report
U.S. Geological Survey ;
Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],