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Hydrology of the Upper Colorado River Planning Area - Groundwater (Southeast and Other Basins)

Big Sandy Basin near Wikieup

Big Sandy Basin near Wikieup

The Upper Colorado River Planning Area is characterized by semi-arid to arid alluvial basins with few perennial streams.  Anderson, Freethey and Tucci (1992) divided the alluvial basins in south-central Arizona into categories based on similar hydrologic and geologic characteristics.  These categories are useful in describing general hydrologic characteristics.  Although their study area does not match the Department’s groundwater basins exactly, the Upper Colorado River Planning Area is included in their study area with the exception of the Peach Springs Basin.  Four basin categories identified by Anderson, et al. are represented in the planning area; West, Colorado River, Highland and Southeast.

Southeast Basins

Big Sandy Basin (western portion)

With the exception of its northeastern portion, most of the Big Sandy Basin was categorized as a “Southeast Basin” by Anderson, Freethey and Tucci (1992).  This area generally corresponds to the Wikieup Sub-basin south of Interstate 10 (see Figure 4.1-6).  Southeast Basins are characterized by moderately thick pre-Basin and Range sediments and an overlying layer of lower basin fill to depths of over 1,000 feet.  Aquifers generally consist of two or more water-bearing units separated by a fine-grained unit that forms a leaky confining layer over the lower basin fill.  Primary water development in the Big Sandy Basin is along the central valley, primarily in upper basin fill that varies from loosely consolidated silty gravel to sandy silt.  The floodplain alluvium in the central valley is 30-40 feet thick and is an unconsolidated deposit of gravel and sand.   In the Wikieup area, wells greater than 40 feet in depth tap the upper basin fill, which is estimated to be 300 feet deep.  North of Wikieup, the upper basin fill is estimated to be 150 to 200 feet deep. Groundwater flow is generally from north to south down the central valley. 

Groundwater recharge is estimated at 22,000 AFA and the volume of groundwater in storage is estimated at 9.5 to 21 maf for the entire basin (Table 4.1-6). Median well yield for the entire basin is 300 gpm reported for large (>10-inch) diameter wells and as high as 2,000 gpm at Cane Springs (Figure 4.1-8). Water levels are relatively stable with some declines measured near Wikieup and south of Valentine. Depth to water ranges from 15 feet bls along the Big Sandy River south of Wikieup to over 370 feet along Hackberry Road in the northern part of the Wikieup Sub-basin (Figure 4.1-6).  Arsenic, fluoride, lead and radionuclide concentrations that exceed drinking water standards have been measured in wells and springs throughout the western portion of the basin (Figure 4.1-9). Elevated radionuclide and fluoride concentrations are found primarily along the mountain drainages (Cady, 1981).

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Other

Peach Springs Basin

The Peach Springs Basin was not included in the study area of  Anderson, Freethey and Tucci (1992).  This basin is characterized by an upland area to the west, the Hualapai Plateau,  composed of interbedded limestones, shales and sandstones, and by Aubrey and Truxton Valleys that are filled with recent lava flows and alluvial material (See Figure 4.8-1).  The Muav Limestone is the main water-bearing unit on the Hualapai Plateau where depths to groundwater may be as much as 1,300  feet bls.  Groundwater is limited to a few permeable layers in the basin’s two primary valleys.  In Aubrey Valley in the far northeastern part of the basin near Frazier Wells, groundwater is found in gravel beds at relatively shallow depth.  In Truxton Valley, lake-bed deposits are a local source of groundwater.  In other areas of the basin, Precambrian rocks, isolated volcanic rocks and local alluvial sands in washes provide small amounts of water. Groundwater flow is toward the north where it exits the basin at springs emanating from the Muav Limestone in the Grand Canyon.  Groundwater flow in Aubrey Valley south of Frazier Wells may be from north to south (Myers, 1987).

Fraizer Wells

Fraizer Wells, Peach Springs Basin.  In the Aubrey Valley in the far northeastern part of the basin near Frazier Wells, groundwater is found in gravel beds at a relatively shallow depth.

An annual groundwater recharge estimate is not available for the basin. The estimated volume of groundwater in storage ranges from 1.0 maf to more than 4.0 maf. Data from the southern part of the basin show well yields ranging from less than 100 gpm up to 1,000 gpm.  Water levels vary from 60 feet bls east of Truxton to over 1,300 feet bls northwest of Audley (Figure 4.8-6). Hydrographs of four wells in the basin show relatively stable water level conditions (Figure 4.8-7). Most of the water quality data shown in Table 4.8-7 is from springs, with arsenic most frequently exceeding the drinking water standards.

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For more information on groundwater in individual basins in the Upper Colorado River Planning Area see the menu to the right.

 

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