Water Quality of Springs in the Spring Mountains

Science Center Objects

The USGS Nevada Water Science Center, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, is sampling and analyzing water from Grapevine, Kiup, and Rainbow Springs to determine the source of water to these springs. These Springs, located in the Spring Mountains in southern Nevada, provide habitat for endangered spring snail species including the southeast Nevada Pyrg (Pyrgulopsis turbatrix) and the Spring Mountains Pyrg (Pyrgulopsis deacon).

USGS scientist collecting water-quality samples from Grapevine Spring, Nevada
 USGS scientist Sara Gedo collecting water-quality samples from Grapevine Spring, Nevada. (Public domain.)

The current hydrogeologic conceptual model of this area identifies two potential sources of water to the springs: the Spring Mountains regional carbonate aquifer or a local aquifer.  

The springs provide a habitat for endangered spring snail species including the southeast Nevada Pyrg (Pyrgulopsis turbatrix) and the Spring Mountains Pyrg (Pyrgulopsis deacon).  These species are heavily dependent on flow from the springs.  By understanding the potential recharge sources for these sites, the hydrologic stability of the springs can be evaluated and appropriate measures can be implemented to monitor discharge at the springs and ensure long-term survival of the snails.

These springs are currently monitored for discharge, but no other monitoring work has been performed.  Discharge data is available from the USGS National Water Information System (NWISweb) and from the links below:

USGS scientist, Sara Gedo, collecting water-quality samples at Kiup Spring, Nevada
USGS scientist, Sara Gedo, collecting water-quality samples at Kiup Spring, Nevada. (Public domain.)

Samples of water from each of the springs will be collected and analyzed for major ions, including

  • calcium,
  • magnesium,
  • sodium,
  • potassium,
  • chloride,
  • fluoride,
  • bicarbonate, and
  • sulfate.  

Additionally, water samples from each spring will be collected and analyzed for

  • stable isotopes (hydrogen and oxygen),
  • tritium, 
  • pH,
  • dissolved oxygen,
  • specific conductance, and
  • temperature.

An analysis of these hydrochemical results will assist in identifying a potential source of recharge that supports the springs.