RecologyTM, the primary San Francisco waste-disposal entity, is proposing to develop a Class 1 landfill near Jungo, Nevada. The proposal calls for the landfill to receive by rail about 20,000 tons of waste per week for up to 50 years. On September 22, 2009, the Interior Appropriation (S.A. 2494) was amended to require the U.S. Geological Survey to evaluate the proposed Jungo landfill site for: (1) potential water-quality impacts on nearby surface-water resources, including Rye Patch Reservoir and the Humboldt River; (2) potential impacts on municipal water resources of Winnemucca, Nevada; (3) locations and altitudes of aquifers; (4) how long it will take waste seepage from the site to contaminate local aquifers; and (5) the direction and distance that contaminated groundwater would travel at 95 and 190 years. This evaluation was based on review of existing data and information.
Desert Valley is tributary to the Black Rock Desert via the Quinn River in northern Desert Valley. The Humboldt River and Rye Patch Reservoir would not be affected by surface releases from the proposed Jungo landfill site because they are in the Humboldt basin. Winnemucca, on the Humboldt River, is 30 miles east of the Jungo landfill site and in the Humboldt basin. Groundwater-flow directions indicate that subsurface flow near the proposed Jungo landfill site is toward the south-southwest. Therefore, municipal water resources of Winnemucca would not be affected by surface or subsurface releases from the proposed Jungo landfill site.
Basin-fill aquifers underlie the 680-square-mile valley floor in Desert Valley. Altitudes around the proposed Jungo landfill site range from 4,162 to 4,175 feet. Depth to groundwater is fairly shallow in southern Desert Valley and is about 60 feet below land surface at the proposed Jungo landfill site. A groundwater divide exists about 7 miles north of the proposed Jungo landfill site. Groundwater north of the divide flows north towards the Quinn River. South of the divide and near the proposed Jungo landfill site, groundwater flows in a south-southwesterly direction. Data are insufficient to determine whether groundwater eventually flows into Rye Patch Reservoir or other adjacent valleys. Estimates indicate that contaminants would travel about 0.02 mile and a maximum of 2.5 miles in 95 years and about 0.04 mile and a maximum of 5.0 miles in 190 years. The closest supply wells that could be impacted by contaminants are 5 to 6 miles downgradient and are used for industry, irrigation, and stock watering.