Relations between the elevation of the static water level in wells and the elevation of the accounting surface within the Colorado River aquifer in the vicinity of Vidal, California, the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation, California, and on Mohave Mesa, Arizona, were used to determine which wells outside the flood plain of the Colorado River are presumed to yield water that will be replaced by water from the Colorado River. Wells that have a static water-level elevation equal to or below the elevation of the accounting surface are presumed to yield water that will be replaced by water from the Colorado River. Geographic Information System (GIS) interpolation tools were used to produce maps of areas where water levels are above, below, and near (within ? 0.84 foot) the accounting surface.
Calculated water-level elevations and interpolated accounting-surface elevations were determined for 33 wells in the vicinity of Vidal, 16 wells in the Chemehuevi area, and 35 wells on Mohave Mesa. Water-level measurements generally were taken in the last 10 years with steel and electrical tapes accurate to within hundredths of a foot. A Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) was used to determine land-surface elevations to within an operational accuracy of ? 0.43 foot, resulting in calculated water-level elevations having a 95-percent confidence interval of ? 0.84 foot.
In the Vidal area, differences in elevation between the accounting surface and measured water levels range from -2.7 feet below to as much as 17.6 feet above the accounting surface. Relative differences between the elevation of the water level and the elevation of the accounting surface decrease from west to east and from north to south. In the Chemehuevi area, differences in elevation range from -3.7 feet below to as much as 8.7 feet above the accounting surface, which is established at 449.6 feet in the vicinity of Lake Havasu. In all of the Mohave Mesa area, the water-level elevation is near or below the elevation of the accounting surface. Differences in elevation between water levels and the accounting surface range from -0.2 to -11.3 feet, with most values exceeding -7.0 feet.
In general, the ArcGIS Triangulated Irregular Network (TIN) Contour and Natural Neighbor tools reasonably represent areas where the elevation of water levels in wells is above, below, and near (within ? 0.84 foot) the elevation of the accounting surface in the Vidal and Chemehuevi study areas and accurately delineate areas around outlying wells and where anomalies exist. The TIN Contour tool provides a strict linear interpolation while the Natural Neighbor tool provides a smoothed interpolation. Using the default options in ArcGIS, the Inverse Distance Weighted (IDW) and Spline tools also reasonably represent areas above, below, and near the accounting surface in the Vidal and Chemehuevi areas. However, spatial extent of and boundaries between areas above, below, and near the accounting surface vary among the GIS methods, which results largely from the fundamentally different mathematical approaches used by these tools. The limited number and spatial distribution of wells in comparison to the size of the areas, and the locations and relative differences in elevation between water levels and the accounting surface of wells with anomalous water levels also influence the contouring by each of these methods. Qualitatively, the Natural Neighbor tool appears to provide the best representation of the difference between water-level and accounting-surface elevations in the study areas, on the basis of available well data.