A large cottonwood tree can be an indicator of a shallow aquifer. Shallow aquifers are frequently used for municipal wells because of their easy access close to the surface. This perennial spring has been reconfigured with a spring box, covered with concrete and is being used for local municipal water supply.
Red slurry is a fire retardant dropped from planes during forest fires. Made of mainly ammonium phosphate it is not supposed to be sprayed near water, being toxic to plant and animal life. The director of Springs Stewardship Institute believes the cause of this bright red color was an accidental drop during a practice flight. It takes several years to resolve.
Desert springs can be the only water source for hundreds of miles. This Artesian type spring just off the dirt road explodes with water continuously, a faucet that can’t be turned off. The pipe is all that’s left of a structure abandoned long ago. This springs serves as a water supply for locals and their sheep herds. The bucket is replaced from time to time.
Dry cattle tank during a drought year. A clamor for bottled ‘spring’ water, industrial agriculture, cattle grazing and unchecked domestic growth put increasing demands on the biologically critical ecosystems that aquifers support.
This spring water is captured to create a pond for use in dry times, as well as a refuge for birds and wildlife. The high water mark shows that the level has been low for some time. Culturally significant to the Navajo, this was the place they returned to when released in 1868 from their forced captivity at Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.
MC Springs, named after the Mojave River’s only native fish, Mojave Tui Chub. This springs is considered possibly a true refugia which is an area of relative stability where plants and animals endure despite surrounding climatic changes. It can serve as the place from which the surviving species can newly disperse and speciate. A fence surrounds the spring to discontinue local Big Horn Sheep from falling in and drowning.
Fossil water is made of ice melt from the last Ice Age. Collected in underground aquifers it travels through rock layers until it finds a place to surface, sometimes very far from its' original source. Isolated spring pools remained as the region became hotter and dryer. Descendants of prehistoric Pupfish continue to survive. Today, due to high human water use drawing down the aquifer, these ancients are endangered.
Immigrants moving West journeyed from spring to spring, often founding towns at spring sites. Anecdotal evidence exists of substantial declining flow since first measured in 1979 due to a lowering of the water table in the area.
From the 1940s through the 1980s, the open-pit mines on the Navajo Nation supplied uranium to the nation’s nuclear weapons program. Many of these mines have not been cleaned up. Combining unregulated water quality and potential for uranium contamination has had a serious health impact of the local residents who use this water.
A geo-thermal artesian spring with a constant temperature at approximately 105 degrees, Tecopa Hot Springs is a remnant of the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene lake, that filled Tecopa basin. The climate became dryer and hotter leaving isolated springs along with ancestral Desert Pupfish. Today they are an endangered species. Relatively near the pacific migratory flyway a wide variety of birds stop here. Located on the Old Spanish Trail, the springs are mentioned in the Prairie Traveler: The 1859 Handbook for Westbound Pioneers. Tecopah was a Paiute chief.
With aquifer water from underneath sere desert cement, sometimes only the slightest trace will show as a sole patch of green. This Hypocrene-type spring happens when high evaporation and low discharge combine. Groundwater is close to the surface but there is no flow. Surviving plants have adapted to long-term drought.
Hot artesian waters served as sacred healing sites for indigenous people in this valley. If warring tribes ended up at a spring, hostilities ceased until they finished their soak and left the area. Part of the last remaining intact oasis in the Mojave Desert this spring was largely undisturbed. In the 1960’s industrial agriculture and mining interests began aggressive water removal, (mining). The majority of the water was diverted, destroying many unique species. Just prior to beginning excavation for a 34,000 unit housing development the Nature Conservancy bought the oasis and donated it to the National Park Service.
The water that seeps out of canyon walls is a combination of a local aquifer and winter precipitation. As it flows down a cliff face it creates a vertical oasis of water and shade in an otherwise parched, environment. Being the only game in town so to speak they serve as a ‘hot’ spot’ for biodiversity supporting a wide variety of many plants, terrestrial and, aquatic invertebrates, as well as birds, mammals, and amphibians. Invasive species as well as changing weather patterns and long term droughts threaten their viability.
During the 2003/4 drought the water table became so low this spring once a part of a hot springs spa, dried up. While the drought has ended increasing local development water use has kept levels too low to support its return.
Mountain men and Native Americans described this spring as ‘gushing, transparent sparkling water. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps put in a flow capturing storage tank and underground pipes for nearby irrigation. Today the spring supports the expanding domestic water needs of the subdivision of Ft Valley,
Ranchers lease public lands as open range for their cattle. Cattle and ungulates like Elk and Deer disturb springs by trampling the springs and fouling the water.
Reliable springs drew people to the area where the city of Tucson was established. El Ojito is one of them. An ever expanding population and outsized demands on water use combined with intermittent drought eventually caused the water table to drop irrevocably. The trees that remain have roots that tap water that remains deeply buried.
Finding a desert marsh meant survival when crossing arid country to those on foot, on horseback, or to migrating birds. Occupying only 2% of the landscape, they wield a remarkable influence on the environment; each one supports a unique suite of plants and animals. Once common in the desert, European settlers drained 95% of them by the 20th century. Being on private land protects this cienega.
The town of Shoshone restored these springs to rescue the endangered prehistoric Desert Pupfish. The goal is to increase their genetic diversity and give them a better chance at survival. This restoration project was once a part of a series of oasis in the Mojave Desert most of which no longer have any water for springs to be restored.
11,000 years ago, this carbonite limestone mound collapsed, revealing an underground spring that produces 1.5 million gallons of water daily. Today it contains the highest number of unique species found in North America. Inhabited from 600 to 1400 AD preColumbian Hohokan and Sinaguan, (without water) peoples farmed the surrounding area. In Yavapai tribal myth Montezuma’s Well is where they entered into this world. The Well continues to be sacred to the Yavapai, Apache, Hopi, and Navajo peoples who consider this enduring spring water in the parched landscape, a giver of life.
Spring water supported abundant wildlife, a riparian forest and a fish filled river attracting human settlement here since 2,100 BCE. By the late 1800’s the expanding population with their extensive water use for ranching, large scale irrigated farming and home building drained the aquifer dry. The last fish were gone by the 1940’s.