A study was undertaken to quantitatively evaluate the hydrologic processes affecting the chemical and isotopic composition of drain lateral water in a drained agricultural field in the western San Joaquin Valley, California. The results elucidate the process of mixing of deep and shallow groundwater (below and within 6 m from land surface) entering the drain laterals. The deep groundwater was subject to evapoconcentration prior to drainage system installation and has been displaced downward (to depths greater than 6 m) in the groundwater system. The proportions of deep and shallow groundwater entering the drain laterals was calculated from the end-member oxygen 18 compositions determined in groundwater samples. The percentage of total drain lateral flow which is deep groundwater flow is about 30% for the shallow drain lateral (1.8 m below land surface) (drain lateral 1)) and 60% for the deep drain lateral (2.7 m below land surface (drain lateral 2)). During irrigation, the percentages of deep groundwater flow decrease to 0 and 30% for the shallow and deep drain laterals, respectively. Selenium concentrations in drain lateral waters decrease during irrigation but selenium loads increase. Total estimated annual loads were 1.1 and 5.4 kg of selenium for drain laterals 1 and 2, respectively. Substantial percentages of the annual load occurred during 8 days of irrigation, 23 and 9% for drain laterals 1 and 2, respectively.
Additional publication details
Groundwater flow and solute movement to drain laterals, western San Joaquin Valley, California: 1. Geochemical assessment