Preliminary evaluation of the hydrogeologic system in Owens Valley, California

Water-Resources Investigations Report 88-4003




A preliminary, two-layer, steady-state, groundwater flow model was used to evaluate present data and hydrologic concepts of Owens Valley, California. Simulations of the groundwater system indicate that areas where water levels are most affected by changes in recharge and discharge are near toes of alluvial fans and along the edge of permeable volcanic deposits. Sensitivity analysis for each model parameter shows that steady state simulations are most sensitive to uncertainties in evapotranspiration rates. Tungsten Hills, Poverty Hills, and Alabama Hills were found to act as virtually impermeable barriers to groundwater flow. Accurate simulation of the groundwater system between Bishop and Lone Pine appears to be possible without simulating the groundwater system in Round Valley, near Owens Lake, or in aquifer materials more than 1,000 ft below land surface. Although vast amounts of geologic and hydrologic data have been collected for Owens Valley, many parts of the hydrogeologic system have not been defined with sufficient detail to answer present water management questions. Location and extent of geologic materials that impede the vertical movement of water are poorly documented. The likely range of aquifer characteristics, except vertical hydraulic conductivity, is well known, but spatial distribution of these characteristics is not well documented. A set of consistent water budgets is needed, including one for surface water, groundwater, and the entire valley. The largest component of previous water budgets (evapotranspiration) is largely unverified. More definitive estimates of local gains and losses for Owens River are needed. Although groundwater pumpage from each well is measured, the quantity of withdrawal from different zones of permeable material has not been defined. (USGS)

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Preliminary evaluation of the hydrogeologic system in Owens Valley, California
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
v, 76 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.