Deep groundwater quality in the southwestern United States

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Groundwater demands are growing in many arid regions, and the use of non-traditional water resources, especially during extreme droughts, is increasingly common. One non-traditional resource is deep groundwater, which we define from ∼150 m to several kilometers or more deep. We analyze 41 081 data points from 17 basins in the southwestern United States (US) to estimate the distribution of fresh and usable deep groundwater for potential human consumption and irrigation. We find the Great Basin to have the largest percentages of fresh and usable deep groundwater with 88%, 96%, and 98% of the total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations less than 1000 ppm, 3000 ppm and 10 000 ppm respectively. Seven out of the 17 southwestern basins indicate the presence of substantial quantities of usable deep groundwater (<10 000 ppm TDS). We also find that the Great Basin and the Central Valley of California have 64% and 36%, respectively, of deep groundwater with sufficiently low toxic (Na, Cl, and B) and trace element concentrations for irrigation use without treatment, with greater percentages available for more tolerant crops. Given the potentially large deep fresh and usable groundwater volumes across the southwestern US, it is important to characterize the resource and protect it for potential use in decades and centuries to come.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Kang, M; Ayars, JE; Jackson, RB

Published Date

  • March 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 3

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1748-9326

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1748-9318

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1088/1748-9326/aae93c

Citation Source

  • Scopus