Ground water in the Lambayeque Valley has been developed mainly for irrigation of sugarcane and rice. The locality is on the coastal plain of northern Peru, about 650 km (kilometers) northwest of Lima, the national capital. The area considered in this study is about 1,670 sq km (square kilometers) and is mainly on the alluvial fan of Rio Chancay and entirely in the Department of Lambayeque. Chiclayo, the departmental capital and largest city, has a population, of about 46,000. The climate is hot and virtually rainless. Agriculture is dependent on irrigation. The available water, whether in stream s or underground, is introduced from the Andean highlands by Rio Chancay.
Rocks in the area range in age from Cretaceous, or possibly Jurassic, to Quaternary and in lithology from dense and hard igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks to unconsolidated sediments. The bedrock contains and yields water only in small quantities, if at all. The principal water-bearing strata are in the alluvium comprising the fan of Rio Chancay. Where ground water in the alluvium has been most intensively developed, the productive zone is within 20 m (meters) of the land surface and is composed approximately as follows: (1) relatively impermeable soil, clay, and clayey sand, 5 to 10 m thick, (2) permeable sand and gravel, 6 to 10 m thick, at places including one or more layers of clay, so that several water-bearing beds are distinguishable, and (3) relatively impermeable mixtures of clay, sand, and gravel extending below the bottom of wells. Unit 3 in the deepest test continued to 102 m. Unit 2 is the principal source of water tapped by irrigation wells.
In the northern part of the area wells locally yield water rather freely from strata as deep as 73 m, but elsewhere in the area the strata deeper than 20 m are not very productive. Wells at and near Chiclayo yield only small amounts, and the deepest well disclosed, in 100 m of material, only 5.5 m of material that can be considered as possibly water bearing.
Water in the alluvium of the eastern part of the area occurs under water-table conditions at depths from 1 to 8 m below the land surface. The water table declines during pumping for irrigation and rises when pumping is stopped. Recharge comes mainly from infiltration on irrigated fields and from irrigation ditches and probably varies greatly from year to year at any given place. The ground-water reservoir is replenished when pumps are idle; therefore, it is concluded that the recharge is sufficient to offset withdrawal at a rate comparable
to that of 1957, which was about 81 million cum (cubic meters). A study of the effect of protracted pumping on yields of wells suggests that the rate of recharge locally, and for a short period, was more than 76,000 cu m per day. This recharge presumably declined rapidly to zero when irrigation was suspended in the locality. A pumping test showed the transmissivity to be about 950 cu m per day per m and the storage coefficient to be about 0.07. Based on these coefficients, the drawdown caused by one well discharging 10 lps (liters per second) for 6 months would be only 0.066 m at points 4,000 m distant, but 50 wells at the same rate and distance would create 3.3 m of drawdown. As actual distances between wells range from 100 to 300 m where the wells are most numerous and as the average discharge rate is nearer to 20 than to 10 lps, the cumulative effect of the actual
pumping is certain to be considerable. If it were not for the recharge resulting from infiltration of irrigation water, the pumping of so many wells probably could not be long sustained.
The waters from wells of the Lambayeque Valley compare favorably, in most respects, with the standards established by the U.S. Public Health Service for water for human consumption. Chemical analyses of 10 samples of ground water show that the dissolved solids, silica, bicarbonate, sulfate, and sodium increase in the downstream direction, where
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USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water resources of the Lambayeque Valley, Department of Lambayeque, northern Peru