Practically all the ground water of economic importance in the Truckee Meadows area, an alluviated intermontane basin in western Nevada is in the valley fill, which consists of unconsolidated and partially consolidated sedimentary deposits. The Mesozoic and Cenozoic consolidated rocks of the mountains bordering the valley contain some water in fractures and other openings, but they have virtually no interstitial permeability. The permeability of the valley fill is extremely variable. The Truckee Formation, which is the oldest deposit of the valley fill, yields very little water to wells. Permeable lenses of sand and gravel in the valley fill that are younger than the Truckee Formation yield moderate to large amounts of water to wells.
The estimated average annual recharge to and discharge from the groundwater reservoir is 35,000 acre-feet. About 25,000 acre-feet of the recharge is from the infiltration of irrigation water diverted from the Truckee River. Most of the discharge is by evapotranspiration and by seepage to ditches and streams.
Some water in the area is unsuitable for many uses because of its poor chemical quality. Water in the Steamboat Springs area is hot and has high concentrations of chloride and dissolved solids. Both water draining areas of bleached rock and ground water downgradient from areas of leached rock have high concentrations of sulfate and dissolved solids. Surface water of low dissolved-solids content mixes with and dilutes some highly mineralized ground water.
Increased pumping in discharge areas will help to alleviate waterlogged conditions and will decrease ground-water losses by evapotranspiration. Increased pumping near the Truckee River may induce recharge from the river to the ground-water system.