Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Groundwater response to the 2014 pulse flow in the Colorado River Delta

October 31, 2016

During the March-May 2014 Colorado River Delta pulse flow, approximately 102 × 106 m3 (82,000 acre-feet) of water was released into the channel at Morelos Dam, with additional releases further downstream. The majority of pulse flow water infiltrated and recharged the regional aquifer. Using groundwater-level and microgravity data we mapped the spatial and temporal distribution of changes in aquifer storage associated with pulse flow. Surface-water losses to infiltration were greatest around the Southerly International Boundary, where a lowered groundwater level owing to nearby pumping created increased storage potential as compared to other areas with shallower groundwater. Groundwater levels were elevated for several months after the pulse flow but had largely returned to pre-pulse levels by fall 2014. Elevated groundwater levels in the limitrophe (border) reach extended about 2 km to the east around the midway point between the Northerly and Southerly International Boundaries, and about 4 km to the east at the southern end. In the southern part of the delta, although total streamflow in the channel was less due to upstream infiltration, augmented deliveries through irrigation canals and possible irrigation return flows created sustained increases in groundwater levels during summer 2014. Results show that elevated groundwater levels and increases in groundwater storage were relatively short lived (confined to calendar year 2014), and that depressed water levels associated with groundwater pumping around San Luis, Arizona and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora cause large, unavoidable infiltration losses of in-channel water to groundwater in the vicinity.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Groundwater response to the 2014 pulse flow in the Colorado River Delta
DOI 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2016.10.072
Authors Jeffrey Kennedy, Eliana Rodriguez-Burgueno, Jorge Ramirez-Hernandez
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Engineering
Index ID 70177951
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Arizona Water Science Center