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. Indian Wells Valley is one of the study areas being evaluated. The Indian Wells study area is approximately 600 square miles (1,554 square kilometers) and includes the Indian Wells Valley groundwater basin (California Department of Water Resources, 2003). Indian Wells Valley has an arid climate and is part of the Mojave Desert. Average annual rainfall is about 6 inches (15 centimeters). The study area has internal drainage, with runoff from the surrounding mountains draining towards dry lake beds in the lower parts of the valley. Land use in the study area is approximately 97.0 percent (%) natural, 0.4% agricultural, and 2.6% urban. The primary natural land cover is shrubland. The largest urban area is the city of Ridgecrest (2010 population of 28,000). Groundwater in this basin is used for public and domestic water supply and for irrigation. The main water-bearing units are gravel, sand, silt, and clay derived from the Sierra Nevada to the west and from the other surrounding mountains. Recharge to the groundwater system is primarily runoff from the Sierra Nevada and to the west and from the other surrounding mountains. Recharge to the groundwater system is primarily runoff from the Sierra Nevada and direct infiltration from irrigation and septic systems. The primary sources of discharge are pumping wells and evapotranspiration near the dry lakebeds. The primary aquifers in the Indian Wells 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 Indian Wells Valley are completed to depths between 240 and 800 feet (73 to 244 meters), consist of solid casing from the land surface to a depth of 180 to 260 feet (55 to 79 meters), and are screened or perforated below the solid casing.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Groundwater quality in the Indian Wells Valley, California
U.S. Geological Survey
California Water Science Center
Report: 4 p.; Related Reports: SIR 2012-5040, FS 2012-3032, FS 2012-3033, FS 2012-3034, FS 2012-3036, FS 2012-3098