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Santa Ana River Tracer Study

The Santa Ana River is an important source of groundwater recharge for aquifers in Orange County, California. Under base-flow conditions, a substantial percentage of the Santa Ana River consists of treated wastewater. The objectives of this study were to characterize the interaction between the Santa Ana River and the shallow groundwater system, and to quantify the percentage of wastewater and other sources of flow in the Santa Ana River. To accomplish these objectives, stream discharge and dye-tracer concentrations were measured in the Santa Ana River and its tributaries.  

Discharge measurements were made in 2004 at 10 sites along the river, including a USGS gaging station (Santa Ana River at MWD Crossing), and on 5 tributaries. Water samples were collected every 5 to 15 minutes at seven sites to measure Rhodamine WT dye concentrations. The dye concentrations allow for a Lagrangian interpretation of the discharge data. By measuring the discharge associated with same mass of water, the percentage of wastewater can be quantified. The flow of the Santa Ana River at MWD Crossing, the end of the upper reach, was about 68 percent wastewater and at the Powerline site, the end of the lower reach, wastewater increased to approximately 77 percent of total flow. 
 
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USGS Sampling the Santa Ana River at Powerline

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Santa Ana River at Railroad Crossing

Santa Ana River at MWD Crossing   

Santa Ana River at MWD Crossing

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Gregrory Mendez putting tracing dye in the Santa Ana River

For more information please see the AWRA conference proceedings by Gregory Mendez, or visit the NWIS-Web to download indivdual data for the following sites:

USGS Sampling Sites:

Upper Reach Sites: USGS SITE IDs
SANTA ANA River DS CONFLUENCE OF RIX OUTFLOW  340217117211401 
SANTA ANA River at RIVERSIDE Blvd NR RIVERSIDE 340132117214401
SANTA ANA River at Mission Blvd 11066440 
SANTA ANA River US Railroad Xing above MWD CROSSING  335806117260501 
SANTA ANA River at MWD CROSSING 11066460 
Lower Reach Sites:  
SANTA ANA River at MWD CROSSING 11066460 
SANTA ANA River at VAN BUREN BLVD NR RIVERSIDE 11066550 
SANTA ANA River North OF HIDDEN VALLEY WETLANDS 335809117301001 
SANTA ANA River at GRULLA CT at LA SIERRA 335728117314101 
SANTA ANA River US I15 AB NORCO 335645117332601 
SANTA ANA River at POWER LINE RD NR LA SIERRA HEIGHTS  335547117353601 
Tributaries  
LAKE EVANS OUTFLOW AT RIVERSIDE 335426117232701 
SUNNYSLOPE CHANNEL AT SANTA ANA RRP NR RUBIDOUX 335827117253801 
TESUESQUITO C NR MOUTH A RIVERSIDE 335804117255201 
RIVERSIDE WQC PLANT at VAN BUREN BLVD NR RIVERSIDE 335748117275601
HOLE LAKE DISCHARGE ABV SANTA ANA R NR PEDLEY  335743117280501 
HIDDEN VALLEY WETLANDS Lake NR LA SIERRA HEIGHTS 335759117300201 

 

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Page Last Modified: Friday, 23-Dec-2016 13:44:51 EST