Availability of Ground-Water Data for California, Water Year 2001

By Julia A. Huff


Fact Sheet 078-02
Sacramento, California 2002

This document is also available in pdf format: fs 078-02 (220 KB)


The Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Federal, State, and local water agencies, obtains a large amount of data pertaining to the ground-water resources of California each water year. These data consti-tute a valuable database for developing an improved understanding of the water resources of the State. Beginning with the 1985 water year and continuing through 1993, these data were published in a report series entitled "Water Resources Data for California, Volume 5. Ground-Water Data." Prior to the introduction of this series, historical ground-water information was published in U.S. Geological Survey Water-Supply Papers.

In 1994, the Volume 5 Ground-Water Data report was discontinued, but data continue to be available in our databases. This Fact Sheet serves as an index to ground-water data for water year 2001. The 2-page report contains a map of California showing the number of wells (by county) with available water-level and water-quality data for water year 2001 (fig. 2) and instructions for obtaining this and other ground-water informa-tion contained in the databases of the Water Resources Division, California District.


Because the geography and geology of California are so complex, ground-water conditions are difficult to summarize. Ground-water levels are affected by short- and long-term climatic conditions and also by ground-water withdrawals, irrigation return, and other factors.



Measurements of water levels are made in many types of wells under varying conditions, but they are made using standard methods and equipment to ensure that these measurements are consistently accurate and reliable. All water levels in the California database are given in feet with reference to land-surface datum.


The quality of ground water ordinarily changes slowly; therefore, a single annual sampling usually is sufficient to define ground-water quality in most settings. When the quality of ground water is likely to change rapidly because of special circumstances, more frequent sampling is done to identify the nature of the change


Wells and springs in California are assigned numbers according to their location in the rectangular system for the subdivision of public land. For example, in the number 005S012E22P001M (fig.1), the first four characters indicate the township (T. 5 S.), and the next four characters indicate the range (R.12 E.); the digits following the range indicate the section (sec. 22); the letter following the section indicates the 40-acre subdivision of the section. Within each 40-acre subdivision, the wells are numbered serially, as indicated by the last three digits. The final letter indicates the baseline and meridian designation as follows: H, Humboldt; M, Mount Diablo; S, San Bernardino. This 15-digit number is called the Local Number or State Well Number.


Figure 1 is a diagram of the well-numbering system.

Figure 1. Well-numbering system.


Information for an area may be requested using all or part of the Local Number (township/range/ section) or by defining a latitude/longitude polygon.


Data may be accessed directly through the USGS National Water Information Website (NWISWeb) at:

For other information on how to obtain data, send email or call: (916-278-3100)
for northern California data; (858-637-6823)
for southern California data.


Figure 2. The number of wells, by county, for which data are available for the 2001 water year.



For more information on ground water
in California please write to:

Julia A. Huff
U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division
Data Management Unit
5735 Kearny Villa Rd., Suite O
San Diego, CA 92123


Access this fact sheet and
other U.S. Geological Survey
water resources information at:


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
Persistent URL:
Page Contact Information: Contact USGS
Last modified: Tuesday, November 29 2016, 05:51:49 PM
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