A citizen science approach to monitoring water resources in a vulnerable aquifer

Sean Schrag-Toso, Kristine Uhlman, R.G.1, and Jennifer McIntosh

Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

Changing groundwater recharge conditions due to climate change and increasing demand of groundwater have residents that live within the boundaries of the Sonoita Creek Watershed in Southeastern Arizona concerned about future groundwater availability and dwindling spring flow. The Patagonia Mountains, which provide nearly a quarter of Sonoita Creek’s flow, are composed of fractured bedrock and little is known about how changing recharge conditions and increasing demand will affect spring flow and groundwater levels. To address these concerns, and advance the hydrologic understanding of the mountains, a two-phase project is proposed. The first phase is analysis of isotope ratios and the geochemistry of local springs to better understand water's movement within the mountain's fracture systems. These insights, coupled with available data and knowledge on the area's hydrology will guide the development of a conceptual model of groundwater flow within the Patagonia Mountains.  The second phase is the creation of a monitoring plan that is within a local citizen science group’s resources, capabilities, and level of enthusiasm. Regular collection of data by the group will contribute to future hydrologic studies within the basin, and aid in making management decisions around water use by the Town Council.

1Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX and Independent Consultant

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