skip to the content of this page Arizona's Official Website Arizona Department of Water Resources
Arizona Department of Water Resources Arizona's Official Web Site
Securing Arizona's Water Future
Ask us a question...Click for site mapClick to use the ADWR DictionaryDepartment Contact InformationADWR CalendarSend page to printerPlace a Bookmark hereSend a link to this pageDecrease font sizeIncrease font size

Rural Programs

Northern Gila County


The Northern Gila County Water Plan Alliance formed to develop water strategies for the area around Payson, Pine and Strawberry along the Mogollon Rim. The area also is known as the Tonto Creek basin.

The Tonto Creek basin occupies about 920 square miles in central Arizona. The basin falls entirely within the central highlands province, an area of rugged mountains composed of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Formed by faulting, the basin trends north-south and is drained by Tonto Creek and its tributaries. The basin is bounded on the north by the Mogollon Rim, on the east by the Sierra Ancha Mountains, and on the west by the Mazatzal Mountains. Elevations range from 7,800 feet above mean sea level in the Mazatzal Mountains to 2,200 feet above mean sea level at Roosevelt Lake where Tonto Creek terminates.

Watershed Studies

February 23, 1998 - Northern Gila County Water Plan Technical Committee Report and Recommendations to the Steering Committee.pdf

January 24, 2001 - The Northern Gila County Water Plan Alliance Strategic Plan 2001. Prepared by: The NGCWP Alliance Technical Committee.pdf

USGS OffSite Icon

USGS Mogollon Highlands RWI report January 2005 pdf

USGS Mogollon Highlands RWI Figures for the report above (6.3MB)pdf

Problems have occurred using older versions of Acrobat Reader for the figures link, upgrade to the new version here.

[ Back to Watershed Map ]

There are four general rock types in the Tonto Creek basin: alluvium; basin-fill sands and gravel; Paleozoic sedimentary rocks; and Precambrian igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks (Denis, 1981). All four general rock units in the Tonto Creek basin contain some groundwater reserves. The amount of groundwater available varies widely, and generally depends on the unit's composition and structure. The main aquifers are the alluvium and the basin-fill sediments which contain an estimated three million acre-feet of recoverable groundwater.

The Precambrian and Paleozoic rock units either contain very little water or have not been drilled for water; thus, no evaluation of storage can be made. Little groundwater development has occurred in the basin because 97% of the area is National Forest land. Most wells are low-yield domestic and stock wells. According to a 1981 analysis, there are a few irrigation wells, located in the lower parts of the basin, that pump less than 200 acre-feet per year. Overall, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated in 1986 that less than 500 acre-feet per year is pumped from the basin.

Precipitation falling in the higher elevations of the Tonto Creek basin sustains the base flow of Tonto Creek. The two major aquifers, the alluvium and the basin-fill sediments, receive most of their recharge by infiltration from Tonto Creek. Analysts estimated in 1972 that 17,000 acre-feet per year infiltrate into the aquifers from Tonto Creek. Discharges from the basin include 80,000 acre-feet per year of surface flow, 4,000 acre-feet per year of subsurface flow discharged into Roosevelt Lake, and 13,000 acre-feet per year of evapotranspiration from the Tonto Creek floodplain.


Hydrology Division Navigation Links

Use the above links to navigate the Hydrology Division