The Indio subbasin of the Coachella Valley is a desert area of southern California where a growing population depends primarily on groundwater for drinking and agricultural uses. The aquifer system has been supplemented with Colorado River water through managed recharge and widespread irrigation since the mid-20th century. We use a combination of geochemical modeling and trend analysis to identify changes in total dissolved solids through time, elucidate the sources of dissolved solids, and quantify the extent of contributions from those sources throughout the Indio subbasin. We conclude that recharged Colorado River water is the primary source and driver of increasing salinity, particularly in areas immediately downgradient from the recharge locations and in the eastern part of the subbasin away from the recharge ponds due to irrigation using imported water. Other contributions of dissolved solids to groundwater resources include geothermal waters, wastewater effluent, and agricultural return flow, although their effects are more localized. This study presents a broadly applicable framework for identifying sources of dissolved solids in groundwater wells and salinity trends at a regional scale in a large data set.
|Title||Salinity trends in a groundwater system supplemented by 50 years of imported Colorado River water|
|Authors||Jennifer S. Harkness, Patrick Michael McCarthy, Bryant Jurgens, Zeno Levy|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Environmental Science & Technology Water|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||California Water Science Center|