Water Resources Professional Project Reports

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2020


Stream transmission losses due to infiltration from semiarid, perennial streams are important processes that can help water managers and users quantify aquifer recharge. Transmission losses are streamflow reductions that are due to infiltration through the streambed, evapotranspiration, and losses to the floodplain or streambanks (Shanafield, et.al, 2014). Transmission losses from infiltration will always be greater than the amount recharged bacause streamflow hat infiltrates into the streambed can take a variety of pathways other that recharge. This study considers transmission losses in Whiskey Creek, a perennial stream on the Navajo Nation in the Chuska Mountains. The objectives of this study are to determine what factors most greatly influence transmission losses due to infiltration along Whiskey Creek and where transmission losses that become water available for recharge are occurring along Whiskey Creek. Streamflow and other measurements were taken during field campaigns in May, July, October, and November of 2019. Establishing where Whiskey Creek transitions from a gaining stream to a losing stream was determined through synoptic stream gaging along Whiskey Creek’s channel. On the losing reach of the stream, the installation of mini-piezometers was used to determine vertical hydraulic gradients. Diminishing flows along Whiskey Creek’s losing reach were observed at all times of year. This pattern is indicative of increased infiltration and water available for recharge as Whiskey Creek transitions from a mountainous stream to a basin stream. Characteristics of soils and surface geology corroborate the trends conveyed by discharge and vertical hydraulic gradients. The soils present where transmission losses suggest that infiltrated water is being held in water-bearing, sandstone derived alluvium sediments or recharging shallow unconfined aquifers.


transmission loss, stream, infiltration, Whiskey Creek, streamflow