Ground-water storage depletion in Pahrump Valley, Nevada-California, 1962-75

Open-File Report 81-635

Prepared in cooperation with the Nevada Division of Water Resources



During the 13-year period, February 1962 to February 1975, about 540,000 acre-feet of ground water was pumped from Pahrump Valley. This resulted in significant water-level declines along the base of the Pahrump and Manse fans where pumping was concentrated. Maximum observed net decline was slightly more than 60 feet. Much smaller declines occurred in the central valley, and locally, water levels in some shallow wells rose due to recharge derived from the deep percolation of irrigation water. The pumping resulted in about 219,000 acre-feet of storage depletion. Of this, 155,000 acre-feet was from the draining of unconsolidated material, 46,000 was from compaction of fine-grained sediments, and 18,000 acre-feet was from the elastic response of the aquifer and water. The total storage depletion was equal to about 40 percent of the total pumpage. The remaining pumped water was derived from the capture of natural ground-water discharge and reuse of pumped water that had recirculated back to ground water.

Natural recharge to and discharge from the ground-water system is estimated to be 37,000 acre-feet per year. Of this, 18,000 acre-feet per year leaves the area as subsurface outflow through carbonate-rock aquifers which form a multivalley flow system. The extent of this system was not precisely determined by this study. The most probable discharge area for this outflow is along the flood plain of the Amargosa River between the towns of Shoshone and Tecopa. This outflow probably cannot be economically captured by pumping from Pahrump Valley. Consequently, the maximum amount of natural discharge available for capture is 19,000 acre-feet per year. This is larger than the 12,000 acre-feet per year estimated in a previous study; the difference is due to different techniques used in the analysis.

As of 1975, pumping was causing an overdraft of 11,000 acre-feet per year on the ground-water system. No new equilibrium is probable in the foreseeable future. Water levels will probably continue to slowly decline until the pumping is reduced. The moderate rates of decline and very large amounts of ground water stored in the valley-fill reservoir suggest that a long time will be required before the valley-wide depletion of ground-water storage becomes critical. Problems involving water quality, land subsidence, and well interference will probably occur first.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water storage depletion in Pahrump Valley, Nevada-California, 1962-75
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Report: viii, 76 p.; 3 Plates: 20.16 x 27.02 inches or smaller
United States
California, Nevada
Other Geospatial:
Pahrump Valley