United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

History of Water Development at the Nevada Test Site: A Literature Review (NUREG-1710, Volume 2)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: May 2004
Date Published:
February 2005

Prepared by:
M.P. Lee, N.M. Coleman

Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste Staff
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

Historic accounts, geologic treatises, and other key literature sources were used to chronicle developments in the Nevada Test Site (NTS) during the past 150 years. As was the case in the nearby Amargosa Desert, human activities in the area currently occupied by NTS were initially influenced by the location of cold springs. They provided indigenous Native Americans with drinking water. Later, as part of the Western expansion, many of these same springs were relied on by Euro-American pioneers as they crossed the continent. By the time NTS was engaged in activities related to the Nation's defense, it was necessary to develop the available subsurface ground-water supplies, aided in part by improved geologic knowledge of local resources. The first well supporting this infrastructure was Army Well No. 1. The 1253-foot well was completed in May 1956. Today, 17 wells distributed among four service areas supply NTS water needs. Most were drilled in the mid-to-late 1950s or early 1960s in Yucca Flat, Frenchman Flat, and Mercury Valley. Overall, the welded volcanic tuff aquifer is only locally important (in Jackass Flats) whereas the lower carbonate aquifer serves other portions of NTS.

This report is the second volume in the NUREG-1710 series.

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