Adaptive Management of Land Subsidence and Ground Fissuring in the Chino Groundwater Basin, California
Abstract:The Chino Basin, located in southern California, is a large alluvial groundwater basin with storage in excess of five million acre-feet. The basin has a long history of groundwater development for various uses dating back to the early 1900s. As a result, piezometric heads declined basin-wide during the past century – in some areas by more than 200 feet. Declines of this magnitude typically cause irreversible aquifer-system compaction, which in turn results in subsidence at the ground surface. In portions of Chino Basin, land subsidence has been differential and accompanied by ground fissuring, which damaged existing infrastructure and poses concerns for new and existing development.
Chino Basin Watermaster, the agency responsible for groundwater basin management, has recognized that land subsidence and ground fissuring should be minimized to the extent possible. At the same time, Watermaster is implementing aggressive groundwater-supply programs that include controlled overdraft and the possibility of causing head declines in areas prone to subsidence and fissuring. The groundwater-supply programs must also address the subsidence and fissuring phenomena.
From 2001 to 2005, Watermaster conducted a technical investigation to characterize the extent, rate, and mechanisms of subsidence and fissuring. The investigation employed InSAR and ground-level surveying of benchmarks to monitor ground-surface deformation, and borehole extensometers and piezometric monitoring to establish the relationships between groundwater production, piezometric levels, and aquifer-system deformation.
Based on the results of the investigation, Watermaster developed: (i) subsidence-management criteria for the areas experiencing acute subsidence and fissuring, and (ii) an adaptive management program to minimize the potential for future subsidence and fissuring across the entire Chino Basin. The science-based program includes ongoing monitoring, which now includes sophisticated fissure-monitoring techniques, data analysis, annual reporting, and adjustment to the program as warranted by the data.