Efficient conceptual model for simulating the effect of aquifer heterogeneity on natural groundwater discharge to rivers

Autores UPV
Revista Advances in Water Resources


When linearity can be assumed (linear response of heads to stresses), stream-aquifer flow exchange can be simulated as the drainage of a number of independent linear reservoirs. This conceptual model, which can be mathematically deduced in a univocal way from an eigenvalue solution of the linear groundwater flow problem, facilitates the understanding of the physical phenomenon and the analysis of influencing factors. The number of reservoirs required to simulate stream depletion in some ideal homogeneous cases of stream-aquifer connection was analyzed in detail in a previous investigation using analytical eigenvalue solutions [16]. However, most aquifers are heterogeneous in nature and numerical solutions must be employed to analyze whether they could also be simulated using few reservoirs. This paper presents a stochastic analysis of the influence of heterogeneity on the simulation of natural groundwater discharges in aquifers connected to rivers, as a series of linear reservoirs. A Monte-Carlo approach was employed to perform this study. The results show that, on a monthly time scale, many cases (even heterogeneous aquifers) can be simulated using just a few reservoirs with sufficient accuracy and at minimum computational cost. Therefore, this modeling technique can be useful to efficiently simulate the integrated management of complex water resources systems at the basin scale (with many aquifers, reservoirs, demands, etc.) that need to simultaneously consider surface and groundwater flow and stream-aquifer interaction. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.