Groundwater Quality in the Santa Clara River Valley, California
Burton, C.A., Landon, M.K., and Belitz, K., 2011, U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011-3055, 4 p.
Related Study Unit(s): Santa Clara River Valley Groundwater Resources Used for Public Supply
The Santa Clara River Valley (SCRV) study unit is located in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties, California, and is bounded by the Santa Monica, San Gabriel, Topatopa, and Santa Ynez Mountains, and the Pacific Ocean. The 460-square-mile study unit includes eight groundwater basins: Ojai Valley, Upper Ojai Valley, Ventura River Valley, Santa Clara River Valley, Pleasant Valley, Arroyo Santa Rosa Valley, Las Posas Valley, and Simi Valley (California Department of Water Resources, 2003; Montrella and Belitz, 2009). The SCRV study unit has hot, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Average annual rainfall ranges from 12 to 28 inches. The study unit is drained by the Ventura and Santa Clara Rivers, and Calleguas Creek.
The primary aquifer system in the Ventura River Valley, Ojai Valley, Upper Ojai Valley, and Simi Valley basins is largely unconfined alluvium. The primary aquifer system in the remaining groundwater basins mainly consists of unconfined sands and gravels in the upper portion and partially confined marine and nonmarine deposits in the lower portion. The primary aquifer system in the SCRV study unit is defined as those parts of the aquifers corresponding to the perforated intervals of wells listed in the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) database. Public-supply wells typically are completed in the primary aquifer system to depths of 200 to 1,100 feet below land surface (bls). The wells contain solid casing reaching from the land surface to a depth of about 60 -700 feet, and are perforated below the solid casing to allow water into the well. Water quality in the primary aquifer system may differ from the water in the shallower and deeper parts of the aquifer.
Land use in the study unit is approximately 40 percent (%) natural (primarily shrubs, grassland, and wetlands), 37% agricultural, and 23% urban. The primary crops are citrus, avocados, alfalfa, pasture, strawberries, and dry beans. The largest urban areas in the study unit are the cities of Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo, Simi Valley, Newhall, and Santa Clarita.
Currently, groundwater pumping for agricultural use accounts for the greatest amount of discharge from the aquifer system in the SCRV study unit, followed by municipal use. Recharge to the groundwater system is through stream-channel infiltration from the three main river systems and by direct infiltration of precipitation and irrigation. Recharge facilities in the Oxnard forebay play an important role in recharging the local aquifer systems.