Keywords:coastal aquifers, Groundwater Exchange, salinity, seawater intrusion
California’s water system is facing a series of challenges affecting water availability, reliability, and delivery. Reevaluating how groundwater is managed is necessary if...
California’s water system is facing a series of challenges affecting water availability, reliability, and delivery. Reevaluating how groundwater is managed is necessary if it is to achieve its full potential as a reliable source of water. In this report, we present the Legislature with a series of actions that would be phased in over a period of time to address current and emerging groundwater management issues, including bringing science and law together to accurately reflect the physical interconnection of surface water and groundwater.
Conjunctive management or conjunctive use refers to the coordinated and planned use and management of both surface water and groundwater resources to maximize...
Conjunctive management or conjunctive use refers to the coordinated and planned use and management of both surface water and groundwater resources to maximize the availability and reliability of water supplies in a region to meet various management objectives. Surface water and groundwater resources typically differ significantly in their availability, quality, management needs, and development and use costs. Managing both resources together, rather than in isolation, allows water managers to use the advantages of both resources for maximum benefit. Conjunctive management thus involves the efficient use of both resources through the planned and managed operation of a groundwater basin and a surface water storage system combined through a coordinated conveyance infrastructure.
Water is stored in the groundwater basin that is planned to be used later by intentionally recharging the basin when excess water supply is available, for example, during years of above-average surface water supply or through the use of recycled water. The necessity and benefit of conjunctive water management are apparent when surface water and groundwater are hydraulically connected. Well-planned conjunctive management that prevents groundwater depletion by maintaining baseflow to streams and support for ecosystem services not only increases the reliability and the overall amount of water supply in a region, but also provides other benefits such as flood management, environmental water use, and water quality improvement.
The Sacramento River Hydrologic Region (see Figure SR-1 includes the entire California drainage area of the Sacramento River (the state’s largest river) and...
The Sacramento River Hydrologic Region (see Figure SR-1 includes the entire California drainage area of the Sacramento River (the state’s largest river) and its tributaries. The region extends from Chipps Island in Solano County north to Goose Lake in Modoc County. It is bounded by the Sierra Nevada on the east, the Coast Ranges on the west, the Cascade and Trinity mountains on the north, and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta) on the south. The Sacramento River Basin actually begins in Oregon, north of Goose Lake, a near-sink that intercepts the Pit River drainage at the California-Oregon border.
Some key issues for this region are summarized here and discussed further later in this report.
Agriculture. Between 2005 and 2010, the region supported about 1.95 million acres of irrigated agriculture on average. Approximately 1.58 million acres is irrigated on the valley floor. The surrounding mountain valleys add about 370,000 irrigated acres to the region’s total — primarily as pasture and alfalfa. The gross value of agricultural production in the Sacramento Valley for 2011 was about $4.1 billion (California Department of Food and Agriculture 2013). Rice and walnuts are the highest grossing crops in the region followed by almonds and tomatoes. The direct, indirect, and induced effects of the agricultural industry to the regional economy are discussed in this report.
Groundwater. With a 2005-2010 average annual extraction volume of 2.7 million acre-feet (maf), groundwater pumping in the Sacramento River Hydrologic Region accounts for 17 percent of all the groundwater extraction in California — the third highest among the 10 hydrologic regions in California, behind Tulare Lake Hydrologic Region with 38 percent and San Joaquin River Hydrologic Region with 19 percent of the total. Overall, groundwater contributes to about 31 percent of the total water supply. Most groundwater extraction in the region occurs for agricultural water use (2.4 maf), meeting about one-third of agricultural water demands. Groundwater extraction for urban water use is significantly less (465 thousand acre-feet [taf]), which meets about half of the urban water needs. Groundwater levels for much of the region have declined from 2005 to 2010. Groundwater level declines ranging from 20 to 30 feet are seen in the northwestern portion of the Sacramento Valley Groundwater Basin. Declines ranging from to 10 to 20 feet are seen in the northern, the mid- to south-western, and the southeastern portions of the valley. For the rest of the Sacramento Valley Groundwater Basin and the Redding Area Groundwater Basin, groundwater level declines have
ranged from zero to 10 feet.
Flood. Exposure to a 500-year flood event in the region threatens approximately one in three residents, almost $65 billion in assets (crops, buildings, and public infrastructure), 1.2 million acres of agricultural land, and over 340 sensitive species. Almost 95 percent of Sutter County residents, more than 55 percent of Yuba County and Yolo County residents, and more than 50 percent of agricultural land region-wide are exposed to the 500-year flood event.
Climate Change. Several different climate regions overlie portions of the Sacramento River Hydrologic Region. Air temperature data collected for the past century has been summarized by the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC) for the different regions which are outlined below.
The region also is currently experiencing impacts from climate change through changes in statewide precipitation and surface runoff volumes, which in turn affect availability of local and imported water supplies. During the last century, the average early snowpack in the Sierra Nevada decreased by about 10 percent, which equates to a loss of 1.5 maf of snowpack storage (California Department of Water Resources 2008). Projections and impacts based on modeling of climate change are included in this report.
Section 229 of the Water Code directs that the California Department of Public Works, acting by and through the State Engineer, shall "investigate...
Section 229 of the Water Code directs that the California Department of Public Works, acting by and through the State Engineer, shall "investigate conditions of the quality of all the waters within the State, including saline waters, coastal and inland, as related to all sources of pollution of whatever nature and shall report thereon to the Legislature and to the appropriate regional water pollution control board annually, and may recommend any steps which might be taken to improve or protect the quality of such waters."
In order to carry out the intent of Section 228 of the Water Code with respect to investigations of quality of ground waters within the State, it has been necessary first to compile available geologic data in order to locale and define the approximate boundaries of the more important ground water basins.
A base index map showing the principal areas of groundwater storage in the State of California has not been previously prepared. Such a map has been complied for this report in order to establish a uniform name and numbering system for groundwater basins, which can be expanded as new areas of ground water storage are identified, or as it is found necessary to divide the larger areas into subbasins. It will serve as a basis for the planning of future investigations of the groundwater resources of California.
This report identifies alluvial or valley fill areas which contain the principal groundwater resources in California. However, the report is necessarily not complete because of lack of information for many areas of the state.
In general, the areas of groundwater storage indentified include: (a) the major alluvium-filled areas of known groundwater storage and extraction; (b) the extensive areas of alluvial-fill in the Colorado, Mojave, and Basin and Range desert areas which may contain usable groundwater, though little is known of their storage capacity or recharge; and (c) some of the smaller alluvium-filled areas which may furnish a portion of local domestic, irrigation, municipal, and industrial water supplies.