Groundwater provides more than 40 percent of California’s drinking water. To protect this vital resource, the State of California created the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. The Priority Basin Project of the GAMA Program provides a comprehensive assessment of the State’s groundwater quality and increases public access to groundwater-quality information. Four groundwater basins along the Colorado River make up one of the study areas being evaluated. The Colorado River study area is approximately 884 square miles (2,290 square kilometers) and includes the Needles, Palo Verde Mesa, Palo Verde Valley, and Yuma groundwater basins (California Department of Water Resources, 2003). The Colorado River study area has an arid climate and is part of the Sonoran Desert. Average annual rainfall is about 3 inches (8 centimeters). Land use in the study area is approximately 47 percent (%) natural (mostly shrubland), 47% agricultural, and 6% urban. The primary crops are pasture and hay. The largest urban area is the city of Blythe (2010 population of 21,000). Groundwater in these basins is used for public and domestic water supply and for irrigation. The main water-bearing units are gravel, sand, silt, and clay deposited by the Colorado River or derived from surrounding mountains. The primary aquifers in the Colorado River study area are defined as those parts of the aquifers corresponding to the perforated intervals of wells listed in the California Department of Public Health database. Public-supply wells in the Colorado River basins are completed to depths between 230 and 460 feet (70 to 140 meters), consist of solid casing from the land surface to a depth of 130 of 390 feet (39 to 119 meters), and are screened or perforated below the solid casing. The main source of recharge to the groundwater systems in the Needles, Palo Verde Mesa, and Palo Verde Valley basins is the Colorado River; in the Yuma basin, the main source of recharge is from subsurface flow from the groundwater basins to the west. Groundwater discharge is primarily to pumping wells, evapotranspiration, and, locally, to the Colorado River.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Groundwater quality in the Colorado River basins, California
U.S. Geological Survey
California Water Science Center
Report: 4 p.; Related Reports: SIR 2012-5040, FS 2012-3032, FS 2012-3033, FS 2012-3035, FS 2012-3036, FS 2012-3098