Salinity Management for the Upper Gila Riverby G. T. Orlob, (F.ASCE),
E. W. Wessman,
Abstract: Over development and over allocation of the limited water supply of the S afford valley in eastern Arizona has resulted in serious depletion of water for irrigation in the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation, situated downstream. Moreover, intensive diversion of surface water from the Gila River that passes through the valley, coupled with ground water pumping from the contiguous basin fill aquifer, has resulted in increased salinization of the river to a degree that precludes production of crops traditionally grown on the reservation. During peak irrigation months the Gila River becomes a losing stream, virtually an agricultural drain carrying water with salinities in the range of 2,000 to 6,000 milligrams per liter total dissolved solids (TDS), well above the acceptable levels for even moderately salt tolerant crops. Water quality and stream flow in this complex hydrologic system are intimately linked—as the flow diminishes due to consumptive use by agriculture, salinities increase to abnormally high levels. Development of a water quality management plan has been mandated by court action and affected parties are in the process of negotiating its principal features, to be implemented in the near future by the Gila River Water Commissioner.
Subject Headings: Rivers and streams | Salt water | Water supply | Salinity | Water quality | Irrigation water | Streamflow | Crops | Dissolved solids | Arizona | North America | United States
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