Water quality degradation

​Groundwater quality can be impacted by a host of natural and anthropogenic sources.

Additionally, contamination can occur from a single “point” source, like a decommissioned military base or by many distributed sites, commonly referred to as “non-point” source contamination, like nitrate contamination resulting from fertilizers used on many fields collectively.

​Groundwater quality can vary between aquifers in the same basin, with shallow “unconfined” aquifers being particularly prone to contamination. Thus, groundwater monitoring is usually preformed in “nested” monitoring wells that enable sampling of individual aquifers separately. 

Even within a single aquifer,  groundwater quality can change with elevation. Groundwater quality generally degrades with increasing depth within an aquifer. Thus declining groundwater levels can lead to poorer water quality and concentration of contaminant.

Explore water quality at the California Water Library

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Hydrological Region