Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Geohydrology and water chemistry in the Rialto-Colton Basin, San Bernardino County, California

November 1, 1997

The 40-square-mile Rialto-Colton ground- water basin is in western San Bernardino County, California, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles.This basin was chosen for storage of imported water because of the good quality of native ground water, the known capacity for additional ground-water storage in the basin, and the availability of imported water. Because the movement and mixing of imported water needed to be determined, the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District entered into a cooperative program with the U.S.Geological Survey in 1991 to study the geohydrology and water chemistry in the Rialto- Colton basin. Ground-water flow and chemistry were investigated using existing data, borehole- geophysical and lithologic logs from newly drilled test holes, measurement of water levels, and chemical analyses of water samples. The Rialto-Colton basin is bounded on the northwest and southeast by the San Gabriel Mountains and the Badlands, respectively. The San Jacinto Fault and Barrier E form the northeastern boundary, and the Rialto-Colton Fault forms the southwestern boundary. Except in the southeastern part of the basin, the San Jacinto and Rialto-Colton Faults act as groundwater barriers that impede ground- water flow into and out of the basin.Barrier E generally does not impede ground- water flow into the basin. The ground-water system consists primarily of gravel, sand, silt, and clay. The maximum thickness is greater than 1,000 feet. The ground- water system is divided into four water-bearing units: river-channel deposits, and upper, middle, and lower water-bearing units. Relatively impermeable consolidated deposits underlie the lower water- bearing unit and form the lower boundary of the ground- water system. Ground water moves from east to west in the river-channel deposits and upper water-bearing unit in the southeastern part of the basin, and from northwest to southeast in the middle and lower water-bearing units. Two major internal faults, Barrier J and an unnamed fault, affect ground-water movement. Ground water moves across Barrier J in the unfaulted part of the ground-water system. The unnamed fault is a partial barrier to ground-water movement in the middle water- bearing unit and an effective barrier in the lower water-bearing unit.Imported water flows laterally across the unnamed fault above the saturated zone. Major sources of recharge to the ground- water system are underflow; precipitation that collects in small streams that drain the San Gabriel Mountains and the Badlands or runs off the mountain front as sheet flow, and sub-surface inflow; imported water; seepage loss from the Santa Ana River and Warm Creek; infiltration of rainfall; and irrigation return flow. The main component of discharge is pumpage. Long-term water levels in production wells reflect precipitation cycles. During a 194777 dry period, water levels in three wells declined almost continuously?as much as 100 feet in one well.Water levels in a well north of Barrier J are not affected by stresses on the groundwater system south of the barrier, indicating that these two parts of the ground-water system are not well connected. Water levels in cluster wells east of the unnamed fault north and south of the Linden Ponds artificial-recharge site rose as much as 70 feet during 1992-95. The rise in water levels in wells near the recharge ponds was observed within 2 months after the beginning of recharge. Water levels in most wells west of the unnamed fault changed very little during 1992-95. Water-chemistry data indicate that chemical characteristics vary within the groundwater system, and that dissolvedsolids concentrations are generally higher in the river-channel deposits, upper water- bearing unit, and the consolidated deposits than in the middle and lower water-bearing units. The chemical characteristics in water from the middle water-bearing unit were similar for most wells sampled west of the unnamed fault. In water from well

Publication Year 1997
Title Geohydrology and water chemistry in the Rialto-Colton Basin, San Bernardino County, California
DOI 10.3133/wri974012
Authors Linda R. Woolfenden, Dina Kadhim
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series Number 97-4012
Index ID wri974012
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse