The Big Lost River of south-central Idaho interacts with the underlying aquifer by gaining and losing streamflow throughout various areas in the Big Lost River Valley. Surface-water and groundwater resources are used throughout the valley to sustain domestic, agricultural, and livestock needs. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, evaluated streamflow gains and losses by differential streamgaging in the lower Big Lost River, Idaho, during four measurement events: March 27–28, 2019; October 16–17, 2019; October 6–7, 2020; and March 30, 2021. This report presents and analyzes streamflow measurement and uncertainty data from each measurement event to describe surface-water/groundwater interactions. This report is the second chapter of a multi-chapter volume that characterizes water resources in the Big Lost River Basin.
During the four measurement events, 100 streamflow measurements were made at 46 unique sites on the Big Lost River, James Creek, and diversions or tributaries between Mackay Reservoir near Mackay and Arco, Idaho. Aquifer lithology and dimensions affected spatial patterns of streamflow gains and losses between the upper, middle, and lower reaches; changes in water supply, groundwater levels, and surface-water management affected seasonal differences within reaches. In the upper reach of the Big Lost River, streamflow losses and gains were greater during the wetter 2019 events and lesser during the drier 2020 and 2021 events. The middle reach includes the largest losses from the Big Lost River to groundwater; these losses occurred in the Darlington Sinks where 42 percent or more of streamflow was lost as the aquifer widens and groundwater deepens. These results suggest that changing surface-water supply, irrigation use, and recharge affect interannual groundwater levels and, in turn, affect patterns of streamflow gains and losses in the middle reach. Finally, surface-water management is the primary control on surface-water/groundwater interactions in the lower reach. Overall patterns of streamflow gains and losses in this study generally were consistent with previous reports. However, paired with the related hydrogeologic framework and water budget, this investigation provides new insights into how hydrogeologic conditions and interannual variability in water supply, groundwater levels, and surface-water management affect surface-water/groundwater interactions in the Big Lost River Valley.
|Title||Surface-water and groundwater interactions in the Big Lost River, south-central Idaho|
|Authors||Taylor J. Dudunake, Lauren M. Zinsser|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Scientific Investigations Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Idaho Water Science Center|