Drilling a monitoring well in Southern Nevada

BLM Nevada Water Program

As the driest state in the Nation, water resources in Nevada are particularly important in the desert environment. BLM manages water resources both for resource values (watershed health, wildlife, riparian, etc.) and resource uses (recreation, water supply, etc.) within the framework of applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies. 

Most the surface waters in Nevada are groundwater dependent ecosystems, meaning they rely on a groundwater as the main water source.  Principal groundwater aquifers in Nevada include basin-fill aquifers, carbonate-rock aquifers, and volcanic rock aquifers. Of the aquifer types, any or all may be in, or underlie, a particular basin and constitute separate sources of water. Interconnection between the aquifers may also exist. 

Current work within the water resources program includes monitoring both water quantity and quality, developing models to predict impacts to different sources due to management activities, applying for water rights for resource benefits and participating in water rights adjudications.

Project Story

Aquifer systems in southern Nevada and southern California discharge groundwater at springs, and some river drainages and playa areas, which sustains biologically-sensitive aquatic, riparian, and phreatophytic ecosystems. Although relatively small in aerial extent, these ecosystems provide the only habitat within the surrounding desert regions for highly diverse plants and animals, many of which are endemic, federally-listed threatened or endangered, or otherwise sensitive species. These areas also are widely used for a variety of activities by recreationists. Federal resource managers require reliable information about the local groundwater aquifer systems to make informed decisions about maintaining and protection these water-dependent ecosystems. 

Public land management agencies and other entities have been working to improve understanding of groundwater flow and aquifer systems in both Nye and Inyo Counties. A significant groundwater monitoring network in the Amargosa Basin provides the necessary data in order to understand the systems. This network, originally started as part of the Yucca Mountain project, has been in place for over 30 years. Data from this network has been used to inform land managers to better manage water resources and increase awareness of the importance of water management within the basin. 

Given the importance of water resources in the Amargosa Basin, the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, Nye County, NV and Inyo County, CA formed a partnership to work collaboratively on all things water related. This partnership involves sharing of information, coordination of projects, collaborative monitoring and data collection (including maintaining the long-term ground-water and spring monitoring network), geologic studies, and groundwater modeling.

Lowest pool of Grapevine Spring, near Pahrump, NV