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Performance Report

GAMA - Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment Program


The Groundwater Ambient Monitoring and Assessment (GAMA) Program includes several projects to meet the statutory requirements of Groundwater Quality Monitoring Act of 2001 and GAMA Program goals. As California’s most comprehensive and state-of-the-art groundwater research program, these projects inform citizens, community water systems, environmental groups, and state and federal agencies.

Priority Basin Project

The Priority Basin Project provides a comprehensive statewide assessment of groundwater quality to help identify and understand the risks to groundwater. The project started assessing public system wells (deep groundwater resources) in 2002 and shifted focus to shallow aquifer assessments in 2012. Since 2002, U.S Geological Survey (USGS), the projects technical lead, has performed baseline and trend assessments and sampled over 2,900 public and domestic water supply wells that represent 95% of the groundwater resources in California.

GeoTracker GAMA

The GeoTracker GAMA groundwater information system integrates and displays water quality data from various sources on an interactive Google-based map. The system centralizes and increases the availability of groundwater information to the public and decision makers, a main goal of the GAMA Program. Analytical tools and reporting features help users assess groundwater quality and identify potential groundwater issues in California. GeoTracker GAMA contains approximately 78 million standardized analytical results from over 282,000 wells throughout the state. Data is compiled from multiple sources and includes well chemical data and depth to water measurements. Improvements and additions are continually added as system needs change.

Domestic Well Project

Between 2002 and 2011, the GAMA Program sampled over 1,100 private wells in six California counties (Yuba, El Dorado, Tehama, Tulare, San Diego, and Monterey) for commonly detected chemicals. The voluntary participants received analytical test results and fact sheets, and the water quality data was included in the GeoTracker GAMA online database. The Domestic Well Project is currently on hiatus.

Special Studies Project

The Special Studies Project, with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as the project technical lead, focused on specific groundwater quality studies, using state-of-the-art scientific techniques and methods that help researchers and public policy planners to better understand how groundwater contamination occurs and behaves. Since 2004, studies have focused on sources of nitrate, wastewater indicators, groundwater recharge, detection of pharmaceutical compounds and personal care products using low-level anthropogenic compounds as tracers, and isotopic composition as a contamination source tool. Special Studies Projects have recently been reduced in favor of performing additional shallow aquifer assessment studies for the Priority Basin Project.

Technical Hydrogeologic and Data Support

The GAMA Program has expanded to include technical hydrogeologic and data support for several Divisions and Programs at the State Water Board, the Regional Water Boards, other state agencies, and non-governmental organizations. GAMA staff is providing support for the following activities:

  • Hydrogeologic analyses to evaluate drinking water sources
  • Development of geothermal well and water well standards
  • Technical support for state actions involving groundwater
  • Hydrogeologic analysis for desalination projects
  • Technical assistance for developing standard operating procedures for grant projects
  • High-level GIS projects
  • Source water protection planning
  • Antidegradation in groundwater planning

Contact Information

envelope Keep up-to-date on State Water Board GAMA activities. Subscribe to the "Groundwater Ambient Monitoring & Assessment (GAMA)" email list (in the "Water Quality" section).

Questions or Comments?

Email us at GAMA@waterboards.ca.gov or call (916) 341-5577

Groundwater Ambient Monitoring & Assessment Program
State Water Resources Control Board/Division of Water Quality
1001 I Street, 15th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 341-5463