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17-05-2018 | Paper | Issue 7/2018

Hydrogeology Journal 7/2018

Estimating groundwater recharge uncertainty from joint application of an aquifer test and the water-table fluctuation method

Journal:
Hydrogeology Journal > Issue 7/2018
Authors:
H. Delottier, A. Pryet, J. M. Lemieux, A. Dupuy

Abstract

Specific yield and groundwater recharge of unconfined aquifers are both essential parameters for groundwater modeling and sustainable groundwater development, yet the collection of reliable estimates of these parameters remains challenging. Here, a joint approach combining an aquifer test with application of the water-table fluctuation (WTF) method is presented to estimate these parameters and quantify their uncertainty. The approach requires two wells: an observation well instrumented with a pressure probe for long-term monitoring and a pumping well, located in the vicinity, for the aquifer test. The derivative of observed drawdown levels highlights the necessity to represent delayed drainage from the unsaturated zone when interpreting the aquifer test results. Groundwater recharge is estimated with an event-based WTF method in order to minimize the transient effects of flow dynamics in the unsaturated zone. The uncertainty on groundwater recharge is obtained by the propagation of the uncertainties on specific yield (Bayesian inference) and groundwater recession dynamics (regression analysis) through the WTF equation. A major portion of the uncertainty on groundwater recharge originates from the uncertainty on the specific yield. The approach was applied to a site in Bordeaux (France). Groundwater recharge was estimated to be 335 mm with an associated uncertainty of 86.6 mm at 2σ. By the use of cost-effective instrumentation and parsimonious methods of interpretation, the replication of such a joint approach should be encouraged to provide reliable estimates of specific yield and groundwater recharge over a region of interest. This is necessary to reduce the predictive uncertainty of groundwater management models.

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