Groundwater depletion in Willcox, Arizona

Diana Hsieh1
1Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona

Willcox is a small town located in southeastern Arizona that sources all their water from the Willcox groundwater basin, which is a closed system. Because Willcox is not an Active Management Area, there is no regulation on its groundwater usage. This has made it extremely attractive for large agricultural farming operations to move into Willcox increasing drawdown rates. Willcox has experienced the largest land subsidence rate in Arizona caused by overdraft of their groundwater. A thorough search of literature revealed that the rate at which groundwater is being used is unsustainable. With a deficit of water recharging their water basin, the residents of Willcox have experienced their wells drying. Without additional conservation and regulation, the Willcox Groundwater Basin will continue to run at a deficit with their water usage. The USGS is currently conducting research on the effects of rock detention structures and their effects on recharge rate in Willcox. This research provides residents with a possible way to capture, conserve, and increase their water availability.

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