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Hydrologic framework and characterization of the Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona

June 30, 2023

The Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona, was investigated as a possible source of irrigation water for the Leupp and Birdsprings Chapters of the Navajo Nation. The physical, chemical, and hydraulic characteristics of the alluvial aquifer were studied using geophysical surveys, installation of observation wells, water-level measurements, chemical analyses, groundwater pumping simulations, and review of previous investigations. Geophysical surveys and well borings revealed that the aquifer ranges in thickness from near 0 feet around its periphery to about 100 feet in its thickest parts. Water levels were monitored in nine alluvial wells within the study area and compared with earlier measurements collected in 1998 and 1999. Comparison of those earlier water levels with water levels collected as part of this study showed a decline of between about 5 and 12 feet has occurred in the last 23 years. The water chemistry of the aquifer was analyzed for salinity hazard, sodium-adsorption hazard, and specific-ion toxicity. The sodium-adsorption hazard and specific-ion toxicity of alluvial aquifer water were found to be low. However, the salinity hazard was high enough in most areas that it could negatively affect salt-sensitive crops. Well-field pumping scenarios conducted for this study demonstrated that using groundwater from the alluvial aquifer for irrigated agriculture is theoretically possible but may be economically challenging owing to the hydraulic properties of the aquifer.

Publication Year 2023
Title Hydrologic framework and characterization of the Little Colorado River alluvial aquifer near Leupp, Arizona
DOI 10.3133/sir20235052
Authors Jon P. Mason, Jeffrey R. Kennedy, Jamie P. Macy, Bruce Gungle
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2023-5052
Index ID sir20235052
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arizona Water Science Center