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 2003, total ground-water withdrawals were 7,240 acre-feet, industrial withdrawals were 4,450 acre-feet, and municipal withdrawals were 2,790 acre-feet. From 2002 to 2003, total withdrawals decreased by 10 percent, industrial withdrawals decreased by 4 percent, and municipal withdrawals decreased by 20 percent. Flowmeter testing was completed for 24 municipal wells in 2004. The median difference between pumping rates for the permanent meter and a test meter for all the sites tested was -2.9 percent. Values ranged from -10.9 percent at Forest Lake NTUA 1 to +7.8 percent at Rough Rock NTUA 2. From 2003 to 2004, water levels declined in 6 of 12 wells in the unconfined part of the aquifer, and the median change was -0.1 foot. Water levels declined in 7 of 11 wells in the confined part of the aquifer, and the median change was -2.7 feet.
From the prestress period (prior to 1965) to 2003, the median water-level change for 26 wells was -23.2 feet. Median water-level change were -6.1 feet for 14 wells in the unconfined parts of the aquifer and and -72.1 feet for 12 wells in the confined part.
Discharges were measured once in 2003 and once in 2004 at four springs. Discharge stayed the same at Pasture Canyon Spring, increased 9 percent at Moenkopi Spring, decreased 26 percent at an unnamed spring near Dennehotso, and decreased 50 percent at Burro Spring. For the past 12 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 2003 at Moenkopi Wash, 1996 to 2003 at Laguna Creek, 1993 to 2003 at Dinnebito Wash, and 1994 to 2003 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 2004, water samples were collected from 12 wells and 4 springs and analyzed for selected chemical constituents. Dissolved-solids concentrations ranged from 100 to 649 milligrams per liter. Water samples from 11 of the wells and from all 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 2 springs; increasing trends in dissolved-solids and chloride concentrations were evident from the more than 10 years of data for 2 springs.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water, surface-water, and water-chemistry data, Black Mesa area, northeastern Arizona--2003-04