Ground-water and surface-water relations along the Mojave River, southern California

Water-Resources Investigations Report 95-4189




The Mojave River and the associated flood-plain aquifer are important water supplies in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. The river and aquifer, in many areas, are in excellent hydraulic connection, and when flow conditions change in one, the other almost always is affected. To better understand these relations, records of gaging stations were analyzed to determine the frequency and duration of historical streamflow. Annual ground-water recharge from the river during water years 1931-94 was estimated from an accounting of all streamflow accretions and losses. Annual recharge ranged from about 24,000 to 460,000 acre-feet and averaged about 96,000 acre-feet. Channel-geometry regression techniques were used to estimate runoff of ungaged ephemeral streams that are tributary to the river. Water-table and gravity changes were used to estimate specific yield of the aquifer and changes in ground-water storage following storm runoff during the winters of 1992-94. In addition, streamflow hydrographs were analyzed to estimate both ground-water discharge to the river (base flow) and historical streamflow depletion caused by ground-water pumping and evapotranspiration. Ground-water pumpage from the flood-plain aquifer was about 120,000 acre-feet during water year 1994. Annual evapotranspiration along the river probably ranges from about 10,000 to 30,000 acre-feet. Factors controlling the exchange of water are identified in this report on the basis of the historical response of the river-aquifer system to stress (stormflows and pumping). Also identified are reaches of the river that are hydraulically suitable for artificial recharge.

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USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water and surface-water relations along the Mojave River, southern California
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center [distributor],
v, 43 p. :ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ;28 cm.