Sand Hollow Reservoir in southwestern Utah, USA, is operated for both surface-water storage and artificial recharge to the underlying Navajo Sandstone. The total volume of estimated artificial recharge between 2002 and 2007 is 85 million cubic meters (69,000 acre-feet). Since 2002, artificial recharge rates have generally been declining and are inversely correlated with the increasing surface area of the reservoir. Permeability testing of core samples retrieved from beneath the reservoir indicates that this decline may not be due to silt accumulation. Artificial recharge rates also show much seasonal variability. Calculations of apparent intrinsic permeability show that these variations can only partly be explained by variation in water viscosity associated with seasonal changes in water temperature. Sporadic seasonal trends in recharge rates and intrinsic permeability during 2002-2004 could be associated with the large fluctuations in reservoir elevation and wetted area. From 2005 through 2007, the reservoir was mostly full and there has been a more consistent seasonal pattern of minimum recharge rates during the summer and maximum rates during the autumn. Total dissolved-gas pressure measurements indicate the presence of biogenic gas bubbles in the shallow sediments beneath the shallower parts of Sand Hollow Reservoir when the water is warmer. Permeability reduction associated with this gas clogging may contribute to the decrease in artificial recharge rates during the spring and summer, with a subsequently increasing recharge rates in the autumn associated with a decline in volume of gas bubbles. Other possible causes for seasonal variation in artificial recharge rates require further investigation.
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Silt and gas accumulation beneath an artificial recharge spreading basin, Southwestern Utah, U.S.A.