394 Processes Controlling Groundwater Recharge in the Amargosa Desert

Friday, November 6, 2009: 11:00 AM
Charolais (Camino Real Hotel)
Omar M. Al-Qudah , Environmental Science and Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
John C. Walton , Department of Civil Engineering, The University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Arturo Woocay , Department of Civil Engineering, University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX
Natural tributaries in arid regions are generally ephemeral occurring only during the generally short and isolated thunderstorms. Thus, sustained flow is rare and baseflow is essentially absent, large volumes of surface runoff water move into the channel within a short period causing flash floods that are characteristic of arid-zone drainage basins. However, the studies of Amargosa Desert regional groundwater indicate that infiltration of surface runoff occurs in the arroyos subsequent to runoff producing storms and that this infiltration represents a large portion of the groundwater recharge. 
Sampling of surface runoff in a desert environment from ephemeral arroyos is complicated by a number of practical concerns. Surface runoff events are uncommon, difficult to forecast in advance and sometimes separated by gaps of more than a year. In the absence of very large sources of funding, any desert arroyo surface runoff system requires compromises.
This research, as part of the Nye County Nuclear Waste Repository Project Office (NWRPO), attempts to better understand processes controlling groundwater recharge and thus the sustainable yield of groundwater in the Amargosa Desert region by providing new insight into the chemical evolution of southern Nevada’s groundwater, its potential flow paths, infiltration rates, and surface runoff processes, through the initiation of a surface runoff sampling network.