Groundwater quality in the approximately 1,000-square-mile (2,590-square-kilometer) North San Francisco Bay study unit was investigated as part of the Priority Basin Project of the Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program. The study unit is located in northern California in Marin, Napa, and Sonoma Counties. The GAMA Priority Basin Project is being conducted by the California State Water Resources Control Board in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The GAMA North San Francisco Bay study was designed to provide a spatially unbiased assessment of untreated groundwater quality in the primary aquifer systems. The assessment is based on water-quality and ancillary data collected by the USGS from 89 wells in 2004 and water-quality data from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) database. The primary aquifer systems (hereinafter referred to as primary aquifers) were defined by the depth interval of the wells listed in the CDPH database for the North San Francisco Bay study unit. The quality of groundwater in shallower or deeper water-bearing zones may differ from that in the primary aquifers; shallower groundwater may be more vulnerable to surficial contamination.
The first component of this study, the status of the current quality of the groundwater resource, was assessed by using data from samples analyzed for volatile organic compounds (VOC), pesticides, and naturally occurring inorganic constituents, such as major ions and trace elements. This status assessment is intended to characterize the quality of groundwater resources within the primary aquifers of the North San Francisco Bay study unit, not the treated drinking water delivered to consumers by water purveyors.
Relative-concentrations (sample concentration divided by the health- or aesthetic-based benchmark concentration) were used for evaluating groundwater quality for those constituents that have Federal and (or) California benchmarks. A relative-concentration greater than (>) 1.0 indicates a concentration above a benchmark, and less than or equal to (=) 1.0 indicates a concentration equal to or below a benchmark. Relative-concentrations of organic and special interest constituents were classified as ?high? (relative-concentration > 1.0), ?moderate? (0.1 < relative-concentration = 1.0), or ?low? (relative-concentration = 0.1). Inorganic constituent relative-concentrations were classified as ?high? (relative-concentration > 1.0), ?moderate? (0.5 < relative-concentration = 1.0), or ?low? (relative-concentration = 0.5).
Aquifer-scale proportion was used as a metric for evaluating regional-scale groundwater quality. High aquifer-scale proportion is defined as the percentage of the primary aquifers that have a relative-concentration greater than 1.0; proportion is calculated on an areal rather than a volumetric basis. Moderate and low aquifer-scale proportions were defined as the percentage of the primary aquifers that have moderate and low relative-concentrations, respectively. Two statistical approaches-grid-based and spatially-weighted-were used to evaluate aquifer-scale proportion for individual constituents and classes of constituents. Grid-based and spatially-weighted estimates were comparable in the North San Francisco Bay study unit (90-percent confidence intervals).
For inorganic constituents with human-health benchmarks, relative-concentrations were high in 14.0 percent of the primary aquifers, moderate in 35.8 percent, and low in 50.2 percent. The high aquifer-scale proportion of inorganic constituents primarily reflected high aquifer-scale proportions of arsenic (10.0 percent), boron (4.1 percent), and lead (1.6 percent). In contrast, relative-concentrations of organic constituents (one or more) were high in 1.4 percent, moderate in 4.9 percent, and low in 93.7 percent (not detected in 64.8 percent) of the primary aquifers. The high aquifer-scale proport
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Status and understanding of groundwater quality in the North San Francisco Bay groundwater basins, 2004