State will measure county’s water levels

KINGMAN – Just how much groundwater is in Mohave County?

Beginning Monday, the Arizona Department of Water Resources will be making an extensive effort to measure water levels in wells in groundwater basins north of Lake Havasu City.

The project area includes wells in the Sacramento Valley surrounding Topock, Kingman and Chloride, north through the Hualapai Valley and Detrital Valley, and east into the Meadview groundwater basins.

These measurements are being conducted as part of department’s annual and periodic basin-wide water-level data collection program.

“The main reason we are collecting data is to monitor any type of withdrawal and reduction in groundwater levels,” said Scott Stuk, Field Services Division basic data supervisor.

Each year, the department targets at least one area of the state for an extensive “sweep,” intended as a deep dive into regional groundwater conditions. Although the department conducts regular monitoring of selected wells throughout the state, it has not embarked on a regional sweep in the area since 2006.

Of keen interest for this sweep will be how increased agriculture and residential development in recent years has affected groundwater levels.

“When (development) happens you will typically see the water supply drawn down if it’s not recharged from rainwater and snowmelt,” Stuk said. “In fact, we’ve had several concerns come up with the aquifers (surrounding Kingman). We are excited to see what comes out of those wells.”

Based on preliminary data by the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a few years ago, the aquifer surrounding Kingman has been dramatically depleted, dropping from a 225-year supply to approximately 50 years.

Mohave County Supervisor Lois Wakimoto applauds the department’s efforts to answer the question if the region’s aquifers are in danger.

“We can’t make snap judgements on what is or what isn’t,” she said. “We have to deal with the reality of facts, the more information the better. It allows us to do something proactive to continue the life of an aquifer. If this gives us evidence of how unchecked drilling has affected the region, it’s a good thing.”

Water resource personnel will conduct testing in the Northwestern area throughout February. It is a voluntary program.

The department uses the information from the basin survey to develop water level maps to support scientific, planning and management studies of the basin’s aquifer system. The data collected from basin surveys has proved valuable to property owners, developers, along with state and municipal water planners, Stuk said.

Data collected will be made available by early to mid-summer at https://gisweb.azwater.gov/waterresourcedata/GWSI.aspx.