Keywords:coastal aquifers, Groundwater Exchange, salinity, seawater intrusion
The primary goal of the South Coast Hydrologic Region (South Coast region) groundwater update is to expand information about region-specific groundwater conditions for...
The primary goal of the South Coast Hydrologic Region (South Coast region) groundwater update is to expand information about region-specific groundwater conditions for California Water Plan Update 2013 and to guide more informed groundwater management actions and policies.
A second goal is to steadily improve the quality of groundwater information in future California Water Plan (CWP) updates to a level that will enable regional water management groups (RWMGs) to accurately evaluate their groundwater resources and implement management strategies that can meet local and regional water resource objectives within the context of broader statewide objectives.
The final goal is to identify data gaps and groundwater management challenges that will guide prioritizing of future data collection and funding opportunities relevant to the region.
This regional groundwater update is not intended to provide a comprehensive and detailed examination of local groundwater conditions, or be a substitute for local studies and analysis. Nonetheless, where information is readily available, this update does report some aspects of the regional groundwater conditions in greater detail.
Portions of aquifers in many groundwater basins in California have degraded water quality that does not support beneficial use of groundwater. In some...
Portions of aquifers in many groundwater basins in California have degraded water quality that does not support beneficial use of groundwater. In some areas, groundwater quality is degraded by constituents that occur naturally (e.g., arsenic). In many urban and rural areas, groundwater quality degradation has resulted from a wide range of human (anthropogenic) activities.
Groundwater remediation is necessary to improve the quality of degraded groundwater for beneficial use. Drinking water supply is the beneficial use that typically requires remediation when groundwater quality is degraded.
Contaminants in groundwater can come from a many sources, naturally occurring and anthropogenic. Examples of naturally occurring contaminants include heavy metals and radioactive constituents, as well as high concentrations of various salts from specific geologic formations or conditions.
Climate change that results in altered precipitation, snowfall patterns, and rising sea levels may exacerbate salt water intrusion and flooding of low-lying infrastructure and urban facilities. These phenomena will add new challenges to protection of groundwater from contamination.
In addition, groundwater can be contaminated by anthropogenic sources with organic, inorganic, and radioactive constituents from point and non-point sources. These anthropogenic sources include industrial sites, mining operations, leaking fuel tanks and pipelines, manufactured gas plants, landfills, impoundments, dairies, septic systems, and urban and agricultural activities.
The contaminant having the most widespread and adverse impact on drinking water wells is arsenic, followed by nitrates, naturally occurring radioactivity, industrial/commercial solvents, and pesticides.
Groundwater remediation removes constituents, hereafter called contaminants, which affect beneficial use of groundwater. Groundwater remediation systems can employ passive or active methods to remove contaminants. Passive groundwater remediation allows contaminants to degrade biologically or chemically or disperse in situ over time. Active groundwater remediation involves either treating contaminated groundwater while it is still in the aquifer (in situ) or extracting contaminated groundwater from the aquifer and treating it outside of the aquifer (ex situ). Active in situ methods generally involve injecting chemicals into the contaminant plume to obtain a chemical or biological removal of the contaminant. Ex situ methods for treating contaminated groundwater can involve physical, chemical, and/or biological processes.
This study assessed the history of oil production and pressure changes in the southern portion of the San Joaquin Basin in California’s Central...
This study assessed the history of oil production and pressure changes in the southern portion of the San Joaquin Basin in California’s Central Valley as a reverse analog for understanding the pressure response to potential geologic carbon sequestration.
Sequestration involves injecting carbon dioxide into permeable strata such as those that trap oil. This results in pressure increases in the existing fluid in the subsurface that can provide a motive force for brines at those depths to migrate into groundwater, affecting its quality. The pressure can also cause differential ground surface uplift that can affect surface water flow, particularly in engineered water conveyances such as canals.
The strata underlying the Central Valley have been assessed as having considerable capacity to store carbon dioxide, but the area also contains urban areas and extensive agriculture that rely on engineered surface water delivery systems and groundwater supplies. The Stevens Sand, Temblor Formation and Vedder Formation were identified as having the largest cumulative net production from typical geologic carbon sequestration depths.
Two oil pools were identified in each of these stratigraphic units for more detailed analysis, which included converting fluid level data to pressure at the pool scale. Data were collected that allowed an assessment of the hydraulic connectivity of each unit. The results indicated that the Vedder was hydraulically connected at the near basin scale, the Stevens was hydraulically connected at the pool scale and was disconnected between pools and the Temblor was disconnected within pools. Researchers used these results to analyze possible brine leakage driven by geologic carbon sequestration. They also reviewed over 200 articles on historic groundwater contamination. They concluded that no instance of contamination due to upward leakage of brine in the Central Valley was reported.
This study describes the complex geology of the northern Sacramento Valley, focusing on the Late Cenozoic geologic formations and structures that compose or...
This study describes the complex geology of the northern Sacramento Valley, focusing on the Late Cenozoic geologic formations and structures that compose or influence the valley’s fresh groundwater aquifer formations. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) acquired geologic data from groundwater observation well drilling operations that were conducted in the valley over the last 15 years. Using the observation well drilling data, DWR evaluated and classified the lithology of the subsurface sediments, implemented petrographic sand provenance analyses on lithologic sediment samples, and reviewed associated geophysical logs from each bore hole. In addition, DWR conducted an extensive literature review of published and unpublished data and then integrated the data to produce this geologic report, map, and cross sections that describe the geology of the northern Sacramento Valley.
Results from the lithologic logging, petrographic analyses, and data review show that the heterogeneous sediments of the northern Sacramento Valley’s most productive groundwater-bearing geologic formations, the Tehama Formation and the Tuscan Formation, intermix in the subsurface in various areas near the center of the valley. The results also show that toward the westward and eastward extents of the valley, the sediments of the formations become more unified in composition due to the proximity of their respective sediment source areas. However, because of the depositional environment of the geologic formations, sediment sizes within the formations can be discontinuous and intermittent in places, resulting in variable groundwater aquifer zones within the geologic formations.
Additional data are needed to further define the northern Sacramento Valley aquifer system. Drilling and installing groundwater observation wells in areas of little or no data can provide the information needed to determine the extent and variability of the valley’s groundwater aquifers.
Groundwater level data supplied by the observation wells can provide valuable information for monitoring aquifer conditions, for determining the change in groundwater levels over time, and for assessing the ability of groundwater to move through the geologic aquifer sediments. In addition, a textural analysis of formational sediments using lithologic cuttings and/or driller’s well logs could be performed to better identify aquifer production zones.
In summary, the geology of the northern Sacramento Valley is diverse and has a widely varied historical sequence of earth-shaping events. It includes periods of time when much of the area was below sea level, multiple and distinct periods of volcanic activity, several periods of mountain building, and intermingled periods of massive erosion and deposition. Analyses of the data illustrate the heterogeneity of the groundwater-bearing geologic formations in the subsurface, and the intermixing of formational sediments toward the center of the northern Sacramento Valley, resulting in a region with great geologic and hydrogeologic complexity.