The Santa Rosa Plain is home to approximately half of the population of Sonoma County, California, and faces growth in population and demand for water. Water managers are confronted with the challenge of meeting the increasing water demand with a combination of water sources, including local groundwater, whose future availability could be uncertain. To meet this challenge, water managers are seeking to acquire the knowledge and tools needed to understand the likely effects of future groundwater development in the Santa Rosa Plain and to identify efficient strategies for surface- and groundwater management that will ensure the long-term viability of the water supply. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Sonoma County Water Agency and other stakeholders in the area (cities of Cotati, Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol, town of Windsor, Cal-American Water Company, and the County of Sonoma), undertook this study to characterize the hydrology of the Santa Rosa Plain and to develop tools to better understand and manage the groundwater system.
The objectives of the study are: (1) to develop an updated assessment of the hydrogeology and geochemistry of the Santa Rosa Plain; (2) to develop a fully coupled surface-water and groundwater-flow model for the Santa Rosa Plain watershed; and (3) to evaluate the potential hydrologic effects of alternative groundwater-management strategies for the basin. The purpose of this report is to describe the surface-water and groundwater hydrology, hydrogeology, and water-quality characteristics of the Santa Rosa Plain watershed and to develop a conceptual model of the hydrologic system in support of the first objective. The results from completing the second and third objectives will be described in a separate report.