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Toiyabe Chapter
Nevada and Eastern California
PO Box 8096
Reno, NV 89507

(775) 323-3162

Chapter webguy

Pages updated monthly

Large areas of Southeastern Nevada are critical habitat for the Desert Tortoise (D. Ghiglieri]

Groundwater Facts and Factoids


Groundwater expert, Tom Meyers, was the featured speaker at workshops (2004) in Las Vegas, Reno, and Ely.  Dr. Myers was sponsored by the Nevada Ad Hoc Water Network, Progressive Leadership Alliance, and the Chapter.  Dr. Myers took his audience through the basics of groundwater aquifers and underground water flows explaining how rain and snow recharge an underground aquifer as well as how water in an aquifer can supply water to the surface features we all are familiar with -- springs, wetlands, lakes, and rivers.

“A groundwater aquifer is similar to a full tub of water with the spigot on, but when Las Vegas starts pumping nearly as much water as nature puts in the ground, the springs will slowly dry and the people and environment of rural Nevada will suffer,” said Myers.

Dr. Myers delivered the workshops to audiences ranging from 30 to 60 people.   Myers has a PhD and MS in hydrology/hydrogeology from the University of Nevada, Reno and a BS in civil engineering from the University of Colorado. He is an expert on water resource development and groundwater  contamination issues with more than 20 years of experience as a  consultant, government planner, academic researcher, teacher and advocate  for environmental responsibility.

While Dr. Meyers didn't answer the question on everybody's mind "Should water from rural Nevada be imported to our cities?", he did explain what some of the risks of exporting rural groundwater are.

  • deep groundwater in eastern and southern Nevada, western Utah, and eastern California is found in carbonate rock formations and that water flows underground from the north to the south and southwest.  (Although in Snake and Spring Valleys groundwater probably flows to the east and northeast toward the Great Salt Lake and salt flats supporting agricultural pumping in Utah's western desert)

  • there is a lack of scientific knowledge about the degree of negative impacts to springs, wetlands, and lakes from groundwater pumping and export.

  • when the effects of groundwater pumping begin to show up in springs, seeps, and wetlands, the impacts will be felt for a long time since the aquifer supplying them has already been impacted.
  • eastern and southern Nevada and eastern California are famous for large springs with unique fish and plants.  Likewise farmers and ranchers and Native Americans rely on many large springs for much irrigation water.

  • pumping from the aquifer will eventually impact spring discharges.  There is no free lunch and there is likewise no free water.  All water underground is currently going somewhere and pumping will eventually remove enough of it to negatively affect spring discharges.