Isotopes, geochemistry, citizen science and local partnerships as tools to build upon a fractured understanding of the hydrology of the Patagonia mountains

Sean Schrag-Toso, Jennifer McIntosh, and Kristine Uhlman1
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

Drought and increasing demand on groundwater resources have resulted in concern about future groundwater availability among residents living within the boundaries of the Sonoita Creek Watershed in Southeastern Arizona. The Northern Patagonia Mountains are home to the municipal watershed for the Town of Patagonia and are a key contributor to base flow in the Sonoita Creek. To address the concerns of residents living in the area, 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 springs in the bedrock, alongside wells completed in the alluvial aquifers, to better understand groundwater recharge conditions and movement within the mountain's fracture system. This improved understanding of the hydrology of the mountains will inform the second phase, which includes a training for well owners and the creation of a monitoring plan for residents and a citizen science group working in the area. Ultimately, the findings of the study will be passed on to the Town of Patagonia’s Flood and Flow committee, who will facilitate future studies and implement management decisions based on scientific findings.

1Registered Geologist; Executive Editor, Groundwater, and Assistant Editorial Review Board, Environmental & Engineering Geoscience

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