5    Particle Tracking

[Editors Note: This is an electronic reprint of the original document. The original tables and figures were not available in an electronic format, thus only a few of these tables have been recreated.]

The Division of Planning recently published a report entitled "Estimation of Delta Island Diversions and Return Flows" (Estimation 1995). The report documents the Delta Modeling Section's Delta Island Consumptive Use (DICU) model and associated routines. Several areas for future model enhancement were identified in the above report. Progress in making the identified modifications is documented in this chapter.

Delta Island Water Use Study

A joint feasibility study is being conducted by DWR's Division of Local Assistance and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) under the Municipal Water Quality Investigations (MWQI) program to measure irrigation and drainage volumes, quality, and power consumption on Twitchell Island. After determining the water balance on Twitchell Island, extrapolation methods will be used to estimate the water balance on other Delta islands. Return flows will be calculated using historic power records and pump test data obtained from Pacific Gas and Electric. The DICU model is being used by the study team to prioritize data needs. Data collected from this study will be used to calibrate model parameters. The USGS, under contract with the Delta Modeling Section, will spatially aggregate data in a manner consistent with the DICU model using GIS software.

New Evapotranspiration Formulation

Evapotranspiration (ET) is one of the most significant variables controlling the quantity of both diversions and return flows during the crop growing season. A new method of estimating ET in the Delta was developed by DWR's Central District (Historic 1994) and is currently under review. The method is based on an equation which uses temperature and solar radiation to calculate reference ET (Hargreaves and Samani 1985). Upon completion of the review process, staff will incorporate the new formulation into the DICU model, replacing the existing formulation based on pan evaporation data.

Channel Diversion Disaggregation

By simulating the relationship between agricultural diversions and entrainment of eggs, larvae, and juvenile fish in the Delta, the DICU model can be used in conjunction with DSM2 hydrodynamics and particle tracking to assess the benefits of managing diversion timing and water use, set priorities on screen placement, and evaluate the benefits associated with relocating or consolidating diversion points. DICU model output was modified to address the significance of agricultural diversions on particle fate and movement by disaggregating channel diversion estimates into two components: siphon inflow and seepage inflow. While disaggregation is not required to simulate hydrodynamics and water quality, it is essential for simulating particle fate and movement as particles are not entrained by seepage inflows.

Historic Delta Land Use Database

DICU sensitivity analyses demonstrated the importance of land use data in estimating diversion and return flows (Estimation 1995). Based on these results, a decision was made to develop a historic Delta land use database. The current version of the DICU model assigns land use to 142 Delta subareas based on D-1485 water year classification. Critical water years are assigned a land use based on a 1976-77 field survey. Non-critical water years are assigned a land use based on various field surveys undertaken in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

This year an extensive search for possible sources of detailed Delta land use data and other pertinent information was conducted. Table 5-1 summarizes the land use data that has been located to date for the period covering 1922 to 1994. A description of this and other information that will be used in database development follows.

Digital Land Use Data and DICU Subarea Boundaries

The USGS, under contract with the Delta Modeling Section, is in the process of digitizing DICU's 142 subarea boundaries. This information will enable staff to access digital land use data that is available through DWR's Statewide Planning Branch. Land use data that is available in digital form is indicated in Table 5-1 with an asterisk.

Other DWR Delta Land Use Data

The DWR Bulletin 23 series (Report) contains 13 Delta land use surveys in hard copy format for islands and reclamation districts as shown in Table 5-1. The data cannot be readily digitized but is still very useful as it is aggregated by regions that generally coincide with DICU subareas. The data is currently being keypunched into an electronic file.

The Delta Modeling Section is negotiating another cost-share contract with USGS to digitize the 1968 Delta survey. Also, the Statewide Planning Branch is currently digitizing the 1974 San Joaquin County survey and will schedule additional digitizing work in the future.

The Modeling Support Branch maintains a historic Delta land use database that extends from 1922 through 1992. This database is utilized by DWRSIM's consumptive use model and is aggregated into "uplands" and "lowlands" regions. In recent years, the main sources used to update the database have been DWR surveys and county Agricultural Commissioner's annual reports. Data from the latter source are based, not on field checked land use surveys, but on crop production estimates. Incremental differences in annual crop land use acreages have been used in combination with interpolation methods to update the land use database. This database will be useful in developing a DICU land use database, providing a rational basis for filling in missing data.

USDA Consolidated Farm Service Agency Land Use Data

Each county office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Consolidated Farm Service Agency collects land use data on a tract level based on information provided by tract owners. The Sacramento County office has a land use database that extends back at least ten years. Twitchell Island data in Table 5-1 was provided by the Sacramento County office. To obtain complete coverage of the Delta, information must be requested from six county offices.

Table 5-1: Summary of Historic Delta Land Use Surveys
Table 5-1: Summary of HIstoric Delta Land Use Surveys

Return Flow Quality Specification

Subject to further review, representative monthly values for agricultural return quality were developed this year for the following constituents: minerals, electrical conductivity, organic disinfection by-product precursors, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), nutrients, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and chlorophyll-a (Representative 1995). Much of this preliminary work was based on aggregated MWQI data provided by DWR's Division of Local Assistance (MWQI 1995). These values will replace DICU's current specification of agricultural return quality, which is based on DWR's Bulletin 123 (Delta 1967) and is limited to total dissolved solids and chloride. Monthly values for minerals, electrical conductivity, BOD, nutrients and chlorophyll-a were aggregated by Bulletin 123 subregion. In general, the remaining values were aggregated by dissolved organic carbon (DOC) subregion as shown in Figure 5-1 (Five-Year 1994).

Specification of representative values is considered to be an interim solution to modeling agricultural drain quality. A long-term solution is to simulate changes in agricultural return quality with dynamic mathematical formulations. A contract with the University of California, Davis has been executed to expedite the attainment of this goal with respect to salinity and organics.

New Seepage and Irrigation Efficiency Estimates

New spatially varying Delta seepage and irrigation efficiency estimates were developed this year. The current DICU model only accounts for the component of seepage inflow that is available for consumptive use by plants. And currently, a constant Delta-wide irrigation efficiency estimate of 70% is utilized by the model. New estimates, discussed in the following section, are based in part on data from DWR's Report 4 (Quantity 1956). A preliminary validation of the estimates was performed with historic data collected on Twitchell Island.

Estimating Total Delta Seepage

Total Delta seepage consists of a component that is available for consumptive use by plants and a component that is returned to Delta channels. The current version of DICU adequately accounts for the former component but does not account for the latter component. Both components are necessary in computing accurate diversion and return flows.

To derive an estimate for drained Delta seepage, it was assumed that all agricultural return flows occurring between May and October are composed entirely of seepage and excess applied irrigation water. Return flows during other months are likely to be influenced by precipitation runoff and drainage of leach water. Return flow volume data collected between November 1954 and October 1955 (Quantity 1956) were segregated according to the DOC subregions delineated in Figure 5-1. As shown in Figure 5-2 and as calculated in Tables 5-2, 5-3 and 5-4, the high-DOC subregion has the highest drainage on a per unit area basis, followed by the mid-DOC and low-DOC subregions. Although the subregion delineation was not specifically designed to characterize Delta seepage, the pattern shown in Figure 5-2 seems reasonable. The pattern can be explained in part by elevation differences in the Delta. The high-DOC subregion generally corresponds with the low elevation islands, where more seepage is expected due to large hydraulic gradients. Likewise, the low-DOC subregion generally corresponds with the higher elevation islands, where less seepage is expected to occur.

Table 5-2: Drain Volume in High-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1965)
Table 5-2: Drain Volume in High-DOC Delta Subregion

Table 5-3: Drain Volume in Mid-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1965)
Table 5-3: Drain Volume in Mid-DOC Delta Subregion

Table 5-4: Drain Volumes in Low-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1956)
Table 5-4: Drain Volumes in Low-DOC Delta Subregion

Data from October 1955 was used to estimate seepage volume in the Delta. During this month, total return flows were at a minimum and excess applied water was expected to be a minor component of total return flow. Hence, the resulting seepage estimate was expected to be relatively insensitive to irrigation efficiency assumptions:

  • Estimate total Delta return volume for October 1955 given unit volumes from Figure 5-2:

High-DOC Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.102 acre-ft/acre = 14,300 acre-ft

Mid-DOC Return Volume = 178,509 acres x 0.079 acre-ft/acre = 14,100 acre-ft

Low-DOC Return Volume = 100,564 acres x 0.016 acre-ft/acre = 1,600 acre-ft

Total Delta Return Volume = 14,300 + 14,100 + 1,600 = 30,000 acre-ft

which corresponds with the total return volume given in Table 10 of Report 4.

  • Estimate excess applied irrigation water for October 1955. Assume a 70% irrigation efficiency and irrigated acreage and applied water volume measured in 1954 per Table 7 of Report 4. Applied water volumes were not measured in 1955:

Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.022 acre-ft/acre x (1-0.7) = 1,900 acre-ft

  • Estimate Delta seepage that is drained:

Drained Delta Seepage = Total Delta Return Volume - Excess Applied Water = 30,000 - 1,900 = 28,100 acre-ft = 465 cfs (0.067 acre-ft/acre)

  • Not all seepage is drained, however. A fraction of seepage is consumptively used by plants. The DICU model predicts that consumptive use of seepage varied between 300-500 cfs during the 1922-92 simulation period (Estimation 1995). The model predicts that in October 1955, 495 cfs (0.071 acre-ft/acre) of seepage was consumptively used in the Delta. Therefore:

Total Delta Seepage = Drained Seepage + Consumptively Used Seepage = 465 + 495 = 960 cfs (0.138 acre-ft/acre)

Previous DWR seepage estimates range between 635-840 cfs (Estimation 1995).

Estimating Spatial Variation in Irrigation Efficiency

Data in Report 4 suggests spatial variation in irrigation efficiency. For example, in 1954 seasonal applied water values for corn were much higher in the middle organic soils (3.6 acre-ft/acre) than in the north and south mineral soils (1.5 acre-ft/acre). Given the drained seepage estimate developed in the previous section, average and regional irrigation efficiencies were computed for the months May through September. Results are summarized in Fig. 5-3.

Delta Average. Assuming drained seepage is constant throughout the year and given unit volumes per Tables 7 and 10 from Report 4, compute irrigation efficiencies:

  • May

Return Volume = 419,439 acres x 0.119 acre-ft/acre = 49,900 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.157 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 28,100 acre-ft
49,900 - 28,100 = 291,667 x 0.157 x (1- η) η = 0.52

  • June

Return Volume = 419,439 acres x 0.169 acre-ft/acre = 70,900 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.405 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 28,100 acre-ft
70,900 - 28,100 = 291,667 x 0.405 x (1- η) η = 0.64

  • July

Return Volume = 419,439 acres x 0.192 acre-ft/acre = 80,500 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.742 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 28,100 acre-ft
80,500 - 28,100 = 291,667 x 0.742 x (1- η) η = 0.76

  • August

Return Volume = 419,439 acres x 0.172 acre-ft/acre = 72,100 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.585 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 28,100 acre-ft
72,100 - 28,100 = 291,667 x 0.585 x (1- η) η = 0.74

  • September

Return Volume = 419,439 acres x 0.103 acre-ft/acre = 43,200 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 291,667 acres x 0.225 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 28,100 acre-ft
43,200 - 28,100 = 291,667 x 0.225 x (1- η) η = 0.77

Calculated irrigation efficiencies range between 52-77% and have a weighted average (by unit applied water volume) of 71%. The irrigation efficiency estimates for May through September are fairly insensitive to the assumed value of irrigation efficiency for October since applied water is minimal during October. Varying the October value between 40-80% results in the following variation by month: 48-54% in May; 62-64% in June; 75-76% in July; 73-75% in August; 69-72% in September. The weighted average varies between 69-72%.

DOC Subregions. Irrigation efficiencies were calculated for each DOC subregion by first calculating drainage and applied water factors as shown in Tables 5-2 through 5-7:

  • Seepage was computed for the high-DOC subregion seepage assuming a 50% irrigation efficiency and October hydrology. Again, drained seepage is assumed to be constant throughout the year:

Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.024 acre-ft/acre x (1-0.5) = 1,000 acre-ft
Drained High-DOC Seepage = High-DOC Return Volume - Excess Applied Water =
14,300 - 1,000 = 13,300 acre-ft (0.095 acre-ft/acre)

  • May

Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.152 acre-ft/acre = 21,300 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.171 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 13,300 acre-ft
21,300 - 13,300 = 85,263 x 0.171 x (1- η) η = 0.44

  • June

Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.221 acre-ft/acre = 31,000 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.439 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 13,300 acre-ft
31,000 - 13,300 = 85,263 x 0.439 x (1- η) η = 0.53

  • July

Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.271 acre-ft/acre = 38,000 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.806 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 13,300 acre-ft
38,000 - 13,300 = 85,263 x 0.806 x (1- η) η = 0.64

  • August

Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.242 acre-ft/acre = 34,000 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.635 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 13,300 acre-ft
34,000 - 13,300 = 85,263 x 0.635 x (1- η) η = 0.62

  • September

Return Volume = 140,366 acres x 0.157 acre-ft/acre = 22,000 acre-ft
Excess Applied Water = 85,263 acres x 0.244 acre-ft/acre x (1- η)
Drained Seepage = 13,300 acre-ft
22,000 - 13,300 = 85,263 x 0.244 x (1- η) η = 0.58

Table 5-5: Applied Water Volumes in High-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1965)
Table 5-5: Applied Water Volumes in High-DOC Delta Subregion

Table 5-6: Applied Water in Mid-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1965)
Table 5-6: Applied Water in Mid-DOC Delta Subregion

Table 5-7: Applied Water in Low-DOC Delta Subregion
(acre-ft) (Quantity 1965)
Table 5-7: Applied Water in Low-DOC Delta Subregion

Calculated irrigation efficiencies range between 44-64% and have a weighted average (by unit applied water volume) of 59%. The irrigation efficiency estimates for May through September are fairly insensitive to the assumed value of irrigation efficiency for October. Varying the October value between 40-80% results in the following variation by month: 43-49% in May; 52-54% in June; 64-65% in July; 61-63% in August; 57-61% in September. The weighted average varies between 58-61%.

In a similar manner, drained seepage volumes and monthly irrigation efficiencies were estimated for the mid- and low-DOC subregions. Drained seepage was computed as 13,300 acre-ft (0.074 acre-ft/acre) in the mid-DOC subregion and 1,300 acre-ft (0.013 acre-ft/acre) in the low-DOC subregion. Weighted average irrigation efficiencies were computed as 70% for the mid-DOC subregion and 89% for the low-DOC subregion.

Hence, the high-DOC subregion is characterized by high seepage and low irrigation efficiencies and the low-DOC subregion is characterized by low seepage and high irrigation efficiencies. The mid-DOC subregion is similar to average Delta conditions.

Modifications to Crop-Dependent Irrigation Efficiencies

Assuming that crop-dependent irrigation efficiencies developed for Bulletin 160-93 (Irrigation 1995) represent long-term average Delta conditions, weighted average irrigation efficiencies computed in the previous section were corrected to reflect long-term conditions. These irrigation efficiencies are given in Table 5-8:

  • According to Table 2 of Report 4, Delta irrigated land use in 1955 was as follows: Asparagus (28%); Corn (16%); Alfalfa (12%); Sugar Beets (10%); Tomatoes (10%); Pasture (8%); Milo (7%); Miscellaneous (9%). With long-term average crop-dependent irrigation efficiencies from Table 3-8 and the above land use information, a long-term weighted average Delta irrigation efficiency was computed:

Long-Term Average Irrigation Efficiency = (.28)(68) + (.16)(69) + (.12)(68) + (.10)(68) + (.10)(68) + (.08)(62) + (.07)(68) + (.09)(68) = 68%

  • Recall that a 1954-55 Delta-wide weighted average irrigation efficiency of 71% was computed from data in Report 4. Therefore, weighted averages for each subregion were adjusted downward to reflect a long-term average irrigation efficiency of 68%:

High-DOC Subregion: 59 x (68/71) = 57%
Mid-DOC Subregion: 70 x (68/71) = 67%
Low-DOC Subregion: 89 x (68/71) = 85%

Long-term average crop-varying irrigation efficiencies were modified to reflect spatial variability. Modified irrigation efficiencies by crop and subregion are given in Table 5-8. Average values were reduced by a factor of 0.84 (57/68) for the high-DOC subregion and by a factor of 0.99 (70/71) for the mid-DOC subregion. Average values were increased by a factor of 1.25 (85/68) for the low-DOC subregion, assuming a maximum irrigation efficiency of 90% for safflower.

Table 5-8: Proposed Delta Irrigation Efficiencies (Percentage) of Delta Average
(Irrigation 1995)
Table 5-8: Proposed Delta Irrigation Efficiencies (Percentage) of Delta Average

Preliminary Validation

The new seepage and irrigation efficiency estimates were compared with Twitchell Island field estimates reported by Owen & Nance (1962). The authors measured identical applied water and return volumes of 425 acre-ft and estimated seepage of 504 acre-ft for the month of October 1960. Twitchell Island lies within the high-DOC Delta subregion and has a total area of 3580 acres. In 1960 the island had 3494 irrigated acres, mainly in corn and grain. Two seepage comparisons were made, the first employing measured applied water and return volumes:

  • Estimate excess applied irrigation water and drained seepage assuming a 57% irrigation efficiency for a corn and grain land use per Table 5-8:

Excess Applied Water = 425 acre-ft x (1-0.57) = 183 acre-ft

Drained Seepage = Return Volume - Excess Applied Water = 425 - 183 = 242 acre-ft

  • Per DICU, seepage available for consumptive use is approximately 250 acre-ft (Estimation 1995). Therefore,

Total Seepage = 242 + 250 = 492 acre-ft

which is within 2% of the Owen & Nance estimate. A second seepage comparison was made employing unit applied water and return volumes:

Return Volume = 3580 acres x 0.102 acre-ft/acre = 365 acre-ft

Excess Applied Water = 3494 acres x 0.024 acre-ft/acre x (1-0.57) = 36 acre-ft

Drained Seepage = 365 - 36 = 329 acre-ft

Total Seepage = 329 + 250 = 579 acre-ft

which is within 15% of the Owen & Nance estimate. Notice the large discrepancy between the excess applied water estimates.

Summary

1. A seepage component that is not available for consumptive use will be added to DICU lowland diversions and return flow computations. This seepage component will not impact hydrodynamics except perhaps in some localized instances, as seepage diversions equal seepage returns. This component will impact water quality, however. The current assumption that no seepage occurs in the Delta uplands will be maintained. The following factors for total monthly seepage into each of the 142 DICU Delta subareas will be used:

Total High-DOC seepage = 0.095 + 0.071 = 0.166 acre-ft/acre

Total Mid-DOC seepage = 0.074 + 0.071 = 0.145 acre-ft/acre

Total Low-DOC seepage = 0.013 + 0.071 = 0.084 acre-ft/acre

Computation of seepage available for consumptive use will remain unchanged from the current DICU formulation. Drained seepage will be calculated as the difference between total seepage and consumptively used seepage.

2. Irrigation efficiency will be allowed to vary by Delta subregion and crop type as given in Table 3-8. These values should be considered subject to further calibration.

Model Calibration

Over the next year, staff will attempt a calibration of the DICU model. Special attention will be given to leach water schedules and irrigation efficiencies. Irrigation efficiencies may be allowed to vary by month as well as by crop and subregion. Allowing crop planting schedules, and thus the annual distribution of evapotranspiration via crop coefficients, to vary for major crops in the Delta will be investigated. Staff will investigate possible correlations between planting schedules and spring precipitation. Tasks that will be undertaken to support a model calibration, and expected start dates, are given below:

Data Analysis / Acquisition / Assembly

  • Compile applied water estimates from DWR Bulletin 23 series. (May 95)
  • Develop a historic Delta land use database. (Jun 95)
  • Obtain and evaluate Central District's 1990 Delta leach water study. (Jul 95)
  • Compute net channel depletions from AVM data in Old/Middle Rivers. (Jul 95)
  • Obtain power-derived drainage volume estimates from USGS. (Feb 96)

Code Changes

  • Incorporate the Hargreaves-Samani ET formulation. (Jul 95)
  • Allow crop coefficient schedules to vary with spring precipitation. (Jul 95)
  • Allow irrigation efficiency to vary by subarea, crop, and month. (Jul 95)
  • Include leach water in soil moisture calculations. (Jul 95)
  • Modify runoff calculations to be consistent with soil moisture calculations, i.e. drains are operated differently when leaching takes place. (Jul 95)

References

Delta and Suisun Marsh Water Quality Investigations. (1967). DWR, Bulletin 123, August.

Estimation of Delta Island Diversions and Return Flows. (1995). DWR Division of Planning, February.

Five-Year Report of the Municipal Water Quality Investigations Program. (1994). DWR Division of Local Assistance, November.

Hargreaves, G.H. and Samani, Z.A. (1985). "Reference Crop Evapotranspiration from Ambient Air Temperature." American Society of Agricultural Engineers, 85-2517.

Historic Monthly ETo Estimation in the Delta. (1994). DWR Central District, February.

Irrigation Efficiency Estimates by Crop Type. (1995). Internal DWR memorandum from F. Chung to E. Morris, March 14.

MWQI Data Request. (1995). Internal DWR memorandums to P. Hutton from R. Woodard, February 1 and 15.

Owen, L.W. and Nance, D.H. (1962). Hydrology of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. ASCE Hydraulics Division Conference. August 17.

Quantity and Quality of Waters Applied to and Drained from the Delta Lowlands. (1956). DWR, Report 4, July.

Report of Sacramento-San Joaquin Water Supervision. Department of Public Works. Bulletin 23 Series.

Representative Delta Island Return Flow Quality for Use in DSM2. (1995). DWR, Division of Planning, Modeling Support Branch, March. DRAFT


Author: Nirmala Mahadevan and Paul Hutton
Back to Delta Modeling Section 1995 Annual Report Table of Contents

Last revised: 2001-11-20

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