Starting in 1965 the Santa Clara Valley Water District began importing about i00,000 acre-feet per year of northern California water. About one-half of this water was used to artificially recharge the Upper Penitencia Creek alluvial fan in Santa Clara Valley. In order to determine the relative amounts of local ground water and recharged imported water being pumped from the wells, stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen were used to trace the movement of the imported water in the alluvial fan. To trace the movement of imported water in the Upper Penitencia Creek alluvial fan, well samples were selected to give areal and depth coverage for the whole fan. The stable isotopes of oxygen-16, oxygen-18, and deuterium were measured in the water samples of imported water and from the wells and streams in the Santa Clara Valley. The d18oand dD compositions of the local runoff were about -6.00 o/oo (parts per thousand) and -40 o/oo, respectively; the average compositions for the local native ground-water samples were about -6.1 o/oo and -41 o/oo, respectively; and the average compositions of the imported water samples were -10.2 o/oo and -74 o/oo, respectively. (The oxygen isotopic composition of water samples is reported relative to Standard Mean Ocean Water, in parts per thousand.) The difference between local ground water and recharged imported water was about 4.1 o/oo in d18o and 33 o/oo in dL.
The isotopic data indicate dilution of northern California water with local ground water in a downgradient direction. Two wells contain approximately 74 percent northern California water, six wells more than 50 percent. Data indicate that there may be a correlation between the percentage of northern California water and the depth or length of perforated intervals in wells.
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USGS Numbered Series
Tracing ground-water movement by using the stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen, upper Penitencia Creek alluvial fan, Santa Clara Valley, California