Character and evolution of the ground-water flow system in the central part of the western San Joaquin Valley, California

Open-File Report 87-573
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Abstract

The occurrence of selenium in agricultural drain water derived from the western San Joaquin Valley, California, has focused concern on the ground-water flow system of the western valley. In this investigation, previous work and recently collected texture and water-level data are used to evaluate the character and evolution of the regional ground-water flow system in the central part of the western valley, with particular emphasis on the deposits overlying the Corcoran Clay Member of the Tulare Formation.

The Corcoran Clay Member, where present, divides the flow system into an upper semiconfined zone and a lower con-fined zone. Above the Corcoran, three hydrogeologic units can be recognized: Coast Range alluvium, Sierran sand, and flood-basin deposits. These units differ in texture, hydrologic properties, and oxidation state.

The development of irrigated agriculture in the central part of the western valley has significantly altered the flow system. Percolation of irrigation water past crop roots has caused a rise in the altitude of the water table in midfan and distal-fan areas. Pumpage of ground water from wells has caused a lowering of the water table beneath parts of the fanheads and a lowering of the potentiometric surface of the confined zone over much of the western valley. The combination of percolation and pumpage has resulted in development of a large downward hydraulic head gradient in the semi-confined zone and has created a groundwater divide along the western margin of the valley. Surface-water deliveries from the California Aqueduct have allowed a decrease in pumpage and a consequent recovery in hydraulic head throughout the system.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Character and evolution of the ground-water flow system in the central part of the western San Joaquin Valley, California
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 87-573
DOI 10.3133/ofr87573
Year Published 1988
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Description iv, 34 p.
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial San Joaquin Valley