Interpretive Reports

Identification of the groundwater resources used for drinking-water supplies is essential for the design of strategies to manage those resources. In this study, the spatial extent, depths, thicknesses, and volumes of groundwater aquifers used for domestic and public drinking-water supply were estimated from locations and well-construction data from 11,725 domestic-supply wells and 2,376 public-supply wells in the Central Valley, California. The data were compiled as part of the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Assessment Project and California State Water Resources Control Board Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program Priority Basin Project. The spatial distributions of the depth to top and bottom of well screens were interpolated using Empirical Bayesian Kriging across buffer areas surrounding domestic- and public-supply wells. These surfaces provide a measure of the likely maximum horizontal and vertical extent of the aquifer volume accessed for drinking water in the Central Valley during the past century. Well depth generally increased from north to south, and over time from 1905 to 2010. Well-construction depths were generally more consistent in the Sacramento Valley than in the San Joaquin Valley. The total potential aquifer volume accessed for public supply was calculated to be greater than domestic-supply access, even though the estimated spatial extent of domestic-supply wells was 1.5 times larger than the spatial extent of public-supply wells. Public-supply wells commonly have screen lengths greater than 51 meters, whereas domestic-supply wells typically have shorter screen lengths (overall median of 6 meters). Consequently, the accessed thickness and volume of the aquifer is on average 1.8 and 1.4 times greater for public-supply wells than domestic-supply wells, respectively. Results are presented as maps of areal extent, depth, and thickness of zones in the Central Valley aquifer system used for domestic and public drinking-water supplies.