Simulated effects of ground-water management alternatives for the Salinas Valley, California

Water-Resources Investigations Report 87-4066



A two-dimensional digital groundwater flow model was developed to analyze the geohydrology of the groundwater basin in the Salinas Valley. The model was calibrated for steady-state and transient simulations by comparing simulated with measured or estimated inflows, outflows, and water levels for 1970-81. Preliminary estimates of hydraulic properties and some inflows and outflows were adjusted during model calibration. The simulated mean annual water budget for the basin was 559,500 acre-ft/yr each of outflow and inflow. Inflow components consisted of Salinas River recharge (38.3%), percolation of irrigation water (34.0%), small stream and Arroyo Seco recharge (20.9%), seawater intrusion (3.4%), and other sources (3.4%). Outflow components consisted of agricultural pumpage (91.5%), municipal pumpage (4.0%), and riparian phreatophyte evapotranspiration (4.5%). For the steady-state calibration, 70% of the simulated water levels were within 9 ft of measured water levels for 1970-81. A sensitivity analysis determined the overall stability of the model results. The model input variable that probably contributes most to the uncertainty of the results is the quantity of groundwater recharge contributed by irrigation-return flow to the unconfined aquifer. A 15% change in the estimate of this variable causes an 11% change in the simulated river-seepage rate and a 6% change in the simulated seawater intrusion rate. The calibrated model was used to investigate several water resources management alternatives. Projected pumpage increase at a rate of 1%/yr for 20 yr caused declines in mean annual water levels of 10 to 20 ft in some areas and an increase in seawater intrusion from 18,900 to 23 ,600 acre-ft/yr. Pumpage decreases in the coastal area decreased seawater intrusion more effectively than pumpage decreases farther inland. When pumpage was decreased uniformly throughout the valley, the decrease in seawater intrusion was only one-fourteenth the decrease in pumpage. Simulations indicated that replacement of groundwater pumpage with imported surface water in a 9,000 acre service area near the coast would result in a decrease in seawater intrusion equaling nearly one-half the quantity of imported water. (Author 's abstract)
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Simulated effects of ground-water management alternatives for the Salinas Valley, California
Series title Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number 87-4066
DOI 10.3133/wri874066
Edition -
Year Published 1988
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey,
Description vii, 79 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.
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