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Simulation of Subsidence Mitigation Effects on Island Drain Flow, Seepage, and Organic Carbon Loads on Subsided Islands Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta

  • Author(s): Deverel, Steven J.
  • Leighton, David A.
  • Lucero, Christina
  • Ingrum, Timothy
  • et al.

In light of desired implementation of subsidence mitigation practices on Delta islands and the need for evaluation tools, we developed groundwater-flow and solute-transport models and attempted to answer the following questions.

1. How do the groundwater-flow and drainage systems interact to influence island drainage volumes and drain dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and loads?

2. How will future subsidence affect drainage volumes, DOC loads, and seepage onto islands?

3. How will land-use changes to mitigate subsidence affect seepage, drain flow, and DOC loads?

4. How can seepage and water-quality effects from drainage, restoration, and rice cultivation on Delta islands be minimized?

We used hydrologic and geochemical data and modeling to answer these questions. Subsurface processes dominate subsided Delta island hydrology. Seepage and siphoned irrigation water recharge groundwater, which flows to drains. Drainage water that contains DOC derived from oxidation of organic soils is discharged to adjacent channels. We analyzed the effects of subsidence mitigation by simulating mosaics of rice and palustrine wetlands with varying hydrologic management on a representative subsided island (Twitchell Island). These alternative land uses reduce seepage onto islands and thus contribute to increased levee stability. However, most scenarios resulted in increased drain flow and DOC loads. Reducing drain flow is essential to reducing DOC loads relative to the business-as-usual scenario and can be accomplished through hydrologic controls that reduce drain flow on the islands.


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