Hydrogeologic data and water-quality data from a thick unsaturated zone at a proposed wastewater-treatment facility site, Yucca Valley, San Bernardino County, California, 2008-11

Data Series 925
Prepared in cooperation with the Hi-Desert Water District
By: , and 



The Hi-Desert Water District, in the community of Yucca Valley, California, is considering constructing a wastewater-treatment facility and using the reclaimed water to recharge the aquifer system through surface spreading. The Hi-Desert Water District is concerned with possible effects of this recharge on water quality in the underlying groundwater system; therefore, an unsaturated-zone monitoring site was constructed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to characterize the unsaturated zone, monitor a pilot-scale recharge test, and, ultimately, to monitor the flow of reclaimed water to the water table once the treatment facility is constructed.

In June and July 2008, a borehole (YVUZ-5) was drilled by the USGS through the unsaturated zone in the vicinity of the proposed wastewater-treatment facility site by using an overburden drilling method. In addition to a variety of unsaturated-zone instrumentation, an observation well screened near the water table was installed in the borehole. The drilling procedures, lithologic and geophysical data, construction details, physical properties of unsaturated alluvial deposits, and instrumentation installed in YVUZ-5 are described in this report. Core material was analyzed for bulk-density, porosity, effective porosity, volumetric water content, residual water content, saturation, effective saturation, matric-potential, and saturated hydraulic conductivity. Concentrations of soluble anions, including bromide, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, and orthophosphate, in unsaturated-zone sediment and dissolved in unsaturated-zone water were determined by analyzing water extracted from drill-cutting material. A 0.1-acre pilot-scale infiltration pond was constructed in the vicinity of YVUZ-5. Water was applied to the pond over a period of about 8 months and allowed to infiltrate into the underlying unsaturated zone. Data were collected on chemical and isotopic composition of the groundwater, unsaturated-zone water, and infiltration pond water before, during, and after infiltration of water from the constructed pond. Selected drill cuttings and core samples collected during drilling were analyzed for the presence or absence of denitrifying and nitrate-reducing bacteria.

Water levels in the observation well ranged from about 367 to 370 feet below land surface during the period of the study. Measured saturated hydraulic conductivity of core material ranged from 2.1 to 11.0 feet per day. Average vertical infiltration rates in the pilot-scale infiltration pond ranged from 0.7 to 2.4 feet per day. Both denitrifying and nitrate-reducing bacteria were present in drill cutting material in most probable numbers ranging from below detection limits to 2,400,000 for denitrifying and to 93,000 for nitrate-reducing bacteria.

Study Area

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hydrogeologic data and water-quality data from a thick unsaturated zone at a proposed wastewater-treatment facility site, Yucca Valley, San Bernardino County, California, 2008-11
Series title Data Series
Series number 925
DOI 10.3133/ds925
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) California Water Science Center
Description x, 68 p.
Time Range Start 2008-06-01
Time Range End 2011-12-31
Country United States
State California
County San Bernardino County
Other Geospatial Yucca Valley
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details