Groundwater withdrawals began in 1992 from the Langford Basin within the Fort Irwin National Training Center (NTC), California. From April 1992 to December 2010, approximately 12,300 acre-feet of water (averaging about 650 acre-feet per year) has been withdrawn from the basin and transported to the adjacent Irwin Basin. Since withdrawals began, water levels in the basin have declined by as much as 40 feet, and the quality of the groundwater withdrawn from the basin has deteriorated. The U.S. Geological Survey collected geohydrologic data from Langford Basin during 1992–2011 to determine the quantity and quality of groundwater available in the basin. Geophysical surveys, including gravity, seismic refraction, and time-domain electromagnetic induction surveys, were conducted to determine the depth and shape of the basin, to delineate depths to the Quaternary-Tertiary interface, and to map the depth to the water table and changes in water quality. Data were collected from existing wells and test holes, as well as 11 monitor wells that were installed at 5 sites as part of this study. Water-quality samples collected from wells in the basin were used to determine the groundwater chemistry within the basin and to delineate potential sources of poor-quality groundwater. Analysis of stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen in groundwater indicates that present-day precipitation is not a major source of recharge to the basin. Tritium and carbon-14 data indicate that most of the basin was recharged prior to 1952, and the groundwater in the basin has an apparent age of 12,500 to 30,000 years. Recharge to the basin, estimated to be less than 50 acre-feet per year, has not been sufficient to replenish the water that is being withdrawn from the basin. A numerical groundwater-flow model was developed for the Langford Basin to better understand the aquifer system used by the Fort Irwin NTC as part of its water supply, and to provide a tool to help manage groundwater resources at the NTC. Measured groundwater-level declines since the initiation of withdrawals (1992–2011) were used to calibrate the groundwater-flow model. The simulated recharge was about 46 acre-feet per year, including approximately 6 acre-feet per year of natural recharge derived from precipitation runoff and as much as 40 acre-feet per year of underflow from the Irwin Basin. Between April 1992 and December 2010, an average of about 650 acre-feet per year of water was withdrawn from the Langford Basin. Groundwater withdrawals in excess of natural recharge resulted in a net loss of 11,670 acre-feet of groundwater storage within the basin for the simulation period. The Fort Irwin NTC is considering various groundwater-management options to address the limited water resources in the Langford Basin. The calibrated Langford Basin groundwater-flow model was used to evaluate the hydrologic effects of four groundwater-withdrawal scenarios being considered by the Fort Irwin NTC over the next 50 years (January 2011 through December 2060). Continuation of the 2010 withdrawal rate in the three existing production wells will result in 70 feet of additional drawdown in the central part of the basin. Redistributing the 2010 withdrawal rate equally to the three existing wells and two proposed new wells in the northern and southern parts of the basin would result in about 10 feet less drawdown in the central part of the basin but about 100 feet of additional drawdown in the new well in the northern part of the basin and about 50 feet of additional drawdown in the new well in the southern part of the basin. Reducing the withdrawals from the three existing production wells in the central part of the basin from about 45,000 acre-feet to about 32,720 acre-feet would result in about 40 feet of additional drawdown in the central basin near the pumping wells, about 25 feet less than if withdrawals were not reduced. The combination of reducing and redistributing the cumulative withdrawals to the three existing and two proposed new wells results in about 40 feet of additional drawdown in the central and southern parts of the basin and about 70 feet in the northern part of the basin. These results show that reducing and redistributing the groundwater withdrawals would maintain the upper aquifer at greater than 50 percent of its predevelopment saturated thickness throughout the groundwater basin. The scenarios simulated for this study demonstrate how the calibrated model can be utilized to evaluate the hydrologic effects of different water-management strategies.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geohydrology, geochemistry, and groundwater simulation (1992-2011) and analysis of potential water-supply management options, 2010-60, of the Langford Basin, California