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Hydrology 2019, 6(1), 26;

Identification of Source Water Mixing in the Fish Slough Spring Complex, Mono County, California, USA

Partner Engineering and Science, Inc., 1761 E. Garry Avenue, Santa Ana, CA 92705, USA
Inyo County Water Department, 135 S. Jackson Street, Independence, CA 89518, USA
California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Inland Deserts Region, 787 North Main Street, Suite 220, Bishop, CA 93514, USA
Roux Associates, Inc., 555 12th Street, Suite 250, Oakland, CA 95607, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 February 2019 / Revised: 12 March 2019 / Accepted: 15 March 2019 / Published: 20 March 2019
PDF [6942 KB, uploaded 20 March 2019]


While the desert ecosystem is highly dependent on the water resources that sustain it, the Fish Slough spring complex is an arid, spring-dependent wetland undergoing a multidecadal decline in spring outflow. This evaluation updates the source water forensics of the Fish Slough Spring complex, a substantial spring complex in the northern Owens Valley of the Basin and Range geomorphic provinces, in order to better understand the nature of the spring flow decline. The source of spring flow at Fish Slough was evaluated through an integration of the established geologic setting with measured groundwater elevations, and water quality and isotope chemistry compiled from both previously published sources and collection of new samples. While previous efforts to source the Fish Slough springs only considered potential source areas within the local geography, this evaluation considered a larger geographic extent for potential source areas to the spring water. The results infer that Fish Slough springs are sourced from multiple source water areas in hydraulic communication: a basin fill aquifer and warm, sodic spring systems with distinctive chemical signatures. Mixing from these sources occurs along two hypothesized flow paths, one from the northeast through the Tri-Valley area and one from the north and northwest through the Volcanic Tablelands. Northeast Spring has the strongest signature for Tri-Valley area waters, whereas the remaining Fish Slough Springs are comprised of a mixture of both flow paths. These conclusions have important implications for water management activities that have the potential to impact the desert ecosystem supported by these springs. View Full-Text
Keywords: water resources; Owens Valley; springs; groundwater; recharge; forensics; isotopes water resources; Owens Valley; springs; groundwater; recharge; forensics; isotopes

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Zdon, A.; Rainville, K.; Buckmaster, N.; Parmenter, S.; Love, A.H. Identification of Source Water Mixing in the Fish Slough Spring Complex, Mono County, California, USA. Hydrology 2019, 6, 26.

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