Historical ground-water development of the Central and West Coast Basins in Los Angeles County, California through the first half of the 20th century caused large water-level declines and induced seawater intrusion. Because of this, the basins were adjudicated and numerous ground-water management activities were implemented, including increased water spreading, construction of injection barriers, increased delivery of imported water, and increased use of reclaimed water. In order to improve the scientific basis for these water management activities, an extensive data collection program was undertaken, geohydrological and geochemical analyses were conducted, and ground-water flow simulation and optimization models were developed.
In this project, extensive hydraulic, geologic, and chemical data were collected from new multiple-well monitoring sites. On the basis of these data and data compiled and collected from existing wells, the regional geohydrologic framework was characterized. For the purposes of modeling, the three-dimensional aquifer system was divided into four aquifer systems?the Recent, Lakewood, Upper San Pedro, and Lower San Pedro aquifer systems. Most pumpage in the two basins is from the Upper San Pedro aquifer system.
Assessment of the three-dimensional geochemical data provides insight into the sources of recharge and the movement and age of ground water in the study area. Major-ion data indicate the chemical character of water containing less than 500 mg/L dissolved solids generally grades from calcium-bicarbonate/sulfate to sodium bicarbonate. Sodium-chloride water, high in dissolved solids, is present in wells near the coast. Stable isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen provide information on sources of recharge to the basin, including imported water and water originating in the San Fernando Valley, San Gabriel Valley, and the coastal plain and surrounding hills. Tritium and carbon-14 data provide information on relative ground-water ages. Water with abundant tritium (greater than 8 tritium units) is found in and downgradient from the Montebello Forebay and near the seawater barrier projects, indicating recent recharge. Water with less than measurable tritium is present in, and downgradient from, the Los Angeles Forebay and in most wells in the West Coast Basin. Water from several deep wells was analyzed for carbon-14. Uncorrected estimates of age for these samples range from 600 to more than 20,000 years before present. Chemical and isotopic data are combined to evaluate changes in chemical character along flow paths emanating from the Montebello and Los Angeles Forebays.
A four-layer ground-water flow model was developed to simulate steady-state ground-water conditions representative of those in 1971 and transient conditions for the period 1971?2000. Model results indicate increases in ground-water storage in all parts of the study area over the simulated thirty-year period. The model was used to develop a three-dimensional ground-water budget and to assess impacts of two alternative future (2001?25) ground-water development scenarios?one that assumes continued pumping at average current rates and a second that assumes increasing pumping from most wells in the Central Basin. The model simulates stable or slightly increasing water levels for the first scenario and declining water levels (25 to 50 ft in the Central Basin) in the second scenario. Model sensitivity to parameter values and to the assumed Orange County boundary condition was evaluated. Particle tracking was applied to simulate advective transport of water from the spreading ponds, the coastline, and the seawater injection barriers. Particle tracking results indicate that most flow within the Upper San Pedro aquifer system occurs within about 20 percent of the total aquifer system thickness and that virtually all water injected into the seawater barrier projects has flowed inland.
The simulation model was linked with optimizatio