Water-quality assessment of the Las Vegas Valley area and the Carson and Truckee River basins, Nevada and California, nutrients, pesticides, and suspended sediment, October 1969-April 1990

Water-Resources Investigations Report 97-4106
A product of the National Water-Quality Assessment Program -- Nevada Basin and Range
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The U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) is designed to provide long-term, consistent information on water quality that can be used to describe local, regional, and national conditions. The full-scale NAWQA Program, initiated in 1991, includes both study-unit and national synthesis activities. Study-unit investigations provide scientific data and interpretations that will be integrated by national synthesis studies to assess the quality of the Nation's water resources. The Nevada Basin and Range (NVBR) study unit is one of 60 proposed NAWQA study units in the United States. These riverbasin-scale areas were selected to represent large proportions of the Nation's water use and population served by public supplies, and the Nation's geographic diversity.

The NVBR study unit includes the Las Vegas Valley area, approximately 1,640 mi in southern Nevada, and the Carson River Basin (3,970 mi2) and Truckee River Basin (3,230 mi2) in northwestern Nevada and northeastern California. The areas are typical of Basin and Range physiography. Snowfall in high mountains provides streamflow and ground-water recharge in adjacent basins. Unconsolidated basin-fill deposits commonly exceed 1,000 ft in thickness and are principal aquifers in the study unit. The study-unit climate varies from humid continental in the Sierra Nevada where the Carson and Truckee Rivers originate (annual precipitation exceeds 30 in.) to desert in terminal parts of the basins, including the Carson Desert and lower altitudes in Las Vegas Valley, where annual precipitation is less than 5 in.

In 1990, Nevada had the greatest population growth rate and the fourth greatest percentage of population residing in urban areas in the Nation. More than 90 percent of Nevada's population (about 1,090,000 in 1990) resided in the study unit; the Las Vegas Valley area (about 710,000) was the most populous area. In 1990, water use in the study unit was about 1,117,000 acre-ft. Water use in the Las Vegas Valley area was about 317,000 acre-ft; 91 percent was for public supplies. Las Vegas Valley was 79 percent range land, but the 5 percent urban land use has significantly affected water resources. Water use in the Carson River Basin was 538,000 acre-ft in 1990. About 95 percent of the water was used for irrigation, although only 5 percent of the land was used for irrigated agriculture. Water use in the Truckee River Basin was 262,000 acre-ft in 1990. Public supply used about 36 percent of the water, although only 3 percent of the land was urban.

Nutrients, pesticides, and suspended sediments are important water-quality issues in the study unit. Urban runoff and treated sewage effluent contribute these constituents to Las Vegas Wash and the Truckee River. Urban and agricultural activities in the Carson and Truckee River Basins are also sources of these constituents.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Water-quality assessment of the Las Vegas Valley area and the Carson and Truckee River basins, Nevada and California, nutrients, pesticides, and suspended sediment, October 1969-April 1990
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 97-4106
DOI 10.3133/wri974106
Year Published 1997
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description Report: xi, 144 p.; 2 Plates: 21.00 x 24.30 inches and 37.00 x 47.70 inches
Country United States
State California, Nevada
Other Geospatial Carson River Basin, Truckee River Basin, Las Vegas Valley
Scale 250000
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details