Sean Schrag-Toso is a 2019 recipient of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Climate & Society Graduate Fellows Program.
Increasing variance in groundwater recharge conditions due to climate change and increasing demand for groundwater have residents and stakeholders with the Sonoita Creek Watershed in Southeastern Arizona concerned about future groundwater and surface water flow conditions. To address these concerns, a two-stage project is proposed. The first phase is an analysis of isotope ratios and the geochemistry of local springs to create a conceptual model of groundwater flow. These insights, coupled with available data and knowledge on the hydrology of the area will guide the second phase. The second phase is the creation of a monitoring plan that is within a local citizen science group’s resources, capabilities, and level of enthusiasm. The plan will expand the current efforts of the Citizen Science group to include monitoring of spring flow around Harshaw Creek; a tributary of Sonoita Creek, with its headwaters in the Patagonia Mountains, and other vulnerable tributaries. The data collected by the group will contribute to future hydrologic studies within the basin and aid in making management decisions around water use by the Town Council. In addition, the project will empower stakeholders and well owners to be vigilant about monitoring their water supply through documenting and monitoring the effects of varying precipitation and groundwater use on spring flow and the groundwater table.