Issue (Who cares and why?)
In Nevada, our water supply comes from two main sources: groundwater aquifers, and surface water from streams and rivers. These two sources provide vital water for communities, natural ecosystems, agriculture and wildlife. Because water resources are so precious in Nevada, it is important for planners and government officials to understand the interactions of groundwater and surface water.
What has been done?
Scientists from University of Nevada, Reno, (UNR) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) conducted research on groundwater-surface water exchange on the Truckee and Carson rivers, located along the eastern sierra front. The goal of the research was to better understand the influences of this hyporheic exchange zone on conditions in the river bed and the adjacent floodplain.
The team has collected aerial images using heat-sensing cameras to help identify locations of groundwater influence. They also used variations in water level and temperature as a tool to track the movement of water through the rivers and the floodplain.
The team evaluated the extent to which the distribution of aquatic life (such as plants, insects and fish) may be influenced by these exchanges between ground and surface water.
Natural interactions between surface and groundwater yield benefits to both human communities and the stream ecosystem. On the other hand, a lack of knowledge of these processes can lead to adverse human activities that degrade the river’s ability to function.
Findings from the these studies have contribute to a better understanding of how the river ecosystems function, which will in turn are allowing Carson City, and Washoe, Douglas, Lyon Counties to manage more effectively to sustain the aquatic habitat, biodiversity and flow volume.