Groundwater quality in the Mojave area, California

Fact Sheet 2012-3036

U.S. Geological Survey and the California State Water Resources Control Board. This report has related reports. Please see: SIR 2012-5040, FS 2012-3032, FS 2012-3033, FS 2012-3034, FS 2012-3035, FS 2012-3098.



Groundwater provides more than 40 percent of California’s drinking water. To protect this vital resource, the State of California created the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. The Priority Basin Project of the GAMA Program provides a comprehensive assessment of the State’s groundwater quality and increases public access to groundwater-quality information. Four groundwater basins along the Mojave River make up one of the study areas being evaluated. The Mojave study area is approximately 1,500 square miles (3,885 square kilometers) and includes four contiguous groundwater basins: Upper, Middle, and Lower Mojave River Groundwater Basins, and the El Mirage Valley (California Department of Water Resources, 2003). The Mojave study area has an arid climate, and is part of the Mojave Desert. Average annual rainfall is about 6 inches (15 centimeters). Land use in the study area is approximately 82 percent (%) natural (mostly shrubland), 4% agricultural, and 14% urban. The primary crops are pasture and hay. The largest urban areas are the cities of Victorville, Hesperia, and Apple Valley (2010 populations of 116,000, 90,000 and 69,000, respectively). Groundwater in these basins is used for public and domestic water supply and for irrigation. The main water-bearing units are gravel, sand, silt, and clay derived from surrounding mountains. The primary aquifers in the Mojave study area are defined as those parts of the aquifers corresponding to the perforated intervals of wells listed in the California Department of Public Health database. Public-supply wells in the Mojave study area are completed to depths between 200 and 600 feet (18 to 61 meters), consist of solid casing from the land surface to a depth of 130 to 420 feet (40 to 128 meters), and are screened or perforated below the solid casing. Recharge to the groundwater system is primarily runoff from the mountains to the south, mostly through the Mojave River channel. The primary sources of discharge are pumping wells and evapotranspiration.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Groundwater quality in the Mojave area, California
Series title:
Fact Sheet
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
California Water Science Center
4 p.; Related Reports: SIR 2012-5040; FS 2012-3032; FS 2012-3033; FS 2012-3034; FS 2012-3035; FS 2012-3098
United States
Other Geospatial: