Smoke Creek Desert, Nevada

Smoke Creek Desert Water Resources Study

Nevada and California – Sempra Energy

Interflow Hydrogeology held a lead hydrogeology role working with a team of professionals undertaking a study of the water resources of Smoke Creek Desert in Washoe County, Nevada and Lassen County, California. This comprehensive, multi-year study was undertaken to better define the groundwater flow systems and the water budgets for the basin, and was funded by Sempra Energy, which at the time was assessing the feasibility of a large-scale power generating plant, requiring 13,000 acre-ft per year of water supply (8,100 gpm continuous flow). Interflow Hydrology conducted a preliminary feasibility study along with a small team of private consultants specializing in water resources engineering, geology and hydrogeology. A more comprehensive study program was developed as a second phase, to help reduce uncertainties regarding to the groundwater flow systems and water budgets. Interflow Hydrology had direct responsibilities in development of the numeric flow model for the project, and for exploration drilling, test well construction, aquifer testing, conducting artesian well and spring flow and potentiometric head measurements, water chemistry sampling and interpretation, and assisted in other aspects of the study such as implementing a stream flow gaging network, and providing peer review to evapotranspiration studies. The Phase II project team included, private-sector professionals and several research groups, including:

  • Desert Research Institute, which conducted measurements of evapotranspiration and playa discharge of groundwater in the basin,
  • US Geological Survey – Geologic Division, which conducted regional geophysical surveys for the basin including gravity and aeromagnetic surveys, and
  • Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, which provided detailed geologic mapping at focus areas.