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, (5) ground-water chemistry, and (6) periodic testing of ground-water withdrawal meters.
In 2002, total ground-water withdrawals were 8,000 acre-feet, industrial use was 4,640 acre-feet, and municipal use was 3,360 acre-feet. From 2001 to 2002, total withdrawals increased by 4 percent, industrial use increased by 2 percent, and municipal use increased by 7 percent. Flowmeter testing was completed for 32 municipal wells in 2003. The median difference between pumping rates for the permanent meter and a test meter for all the sites tested was -2.0 percent. Values ranged from -13.7 percent at Hopi High School no. 2 to +12.9 percent at Shonto PM3.
From 2002 to 2003, water levels declined in 5 of 13 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer, and the median change was 0.0 foot. Water levels declined in 8 of 13 wells in the confined part of the aquifer, and the median change was -1.1 feet.
From the prestress period (prior to 1965) to 2003, the median water-level change for 26 wells was -8.3 feet. Median water-level changes were -0.4 foot for 13 wells in the unconfirned part of the aquifer and -60.3 feet for 13 wells in the confined part.
Discharges were measured once in 2002 and once in 2003 at four springs. Discharge decreased by 16 percent at Pasture Canyon Spring, increased 10 percent at Moenkopi Spring and 90 percent at an unnamed spring near Dennehotso, and did not change at Burro Spring. For the past 11 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 2002 at Moenkopi Wash, 1996 to 2002 at Laguna Creek, 1993 to 2002 at Dinnebito Wash, and 1994 to 2002 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 the first continuous record of surface-water discharge in 1997, there is no consistent trend in the median winter flow for Laguna Creek.
In 2003, water samples were collected from 12 wells and 4 springs and analyzed for selected chemical constituents. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 118 to 642 milligrams per liter. Water samples from 10 of the wells and from all of the springs had less than 500 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids. There are no appreciable time trends in the chemistry of water samples from 7 wells and 4 springs; 7 wells had more than 8 years of data, and the 4 springs had more than 10 years of data.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water, surface-water, and water-chemistry data, Black Mesa area, northeastern Arizona, 2002-03