HGS RESEARCH HIGHLIGHT – Hydraulic tomography analysis of municipal-well operation data with geology-based groundwater models
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AUTHORS: Xin Tong, Walter A. Illman, Steven J. Berg & Ning Luo
This study is focused on the estimation of aquifer parameters (e.g. hydraulic conductivity and specific storage) through inverse modeling of water-level data from observation wells collected during municipal well operations. The data is tested using four different conceptual geological models in HydroGeoSphere coupled to PEST, and the results indicate that this is a viable method of estimating reliable parameter values using existing data sets (providing a valuable new dimension to data collected during municipal well operations).
This study was co-authored by Steve Berg (Aquanty CEO and Principle Hydrogeologist) and Walter Illman (Scientific Advisor to Aquanty). If you would like to learn more about this paper please reach out to email@example.com.
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The sustainable management of groundwater resources is essential to municipalities worldwide due to increasing water demand. Planning for the optimized use of groundwater resources requires reliable estimation of hydraulic parameters such as hydraulic conductivity (K) and specific storage (Ss). However, estimation of hydraulic parameters can be difficult with dedicated pumping tests while municipal wells are in operation. In this study, the K and Ss of a highly heterogeneous, multi-aquifer/aquitard system are estimated through the inverse modeling of water-level data from observation wells collected during municipal well operations.
In particular, four different geological models are calibrated by coupling HydroGeoSphere (HGS) with the parameter estimation code PEST. The joint analysis of water-level records resulting from fluctuating pumping and injection operations amounts to a hydraulic tomography (HT) analysis. The four geological models are well calibrated and yield reliable estimates that are consistent with previously studies.
Overall, this research reveals that: (1) the HT analysis of municipal well records is feasible and yields reliable K and Ss estimates for individual geological units where drawdown records are available; (2) these estimates are obtained at the scale of intended use, unlike small-scale estimates typically obtained through other characterization methods; (3) the HT analysis can be conducted using existing data, which leads to substantial cost savings; and (4) data collected during municipal well operations can be used in the development of new groundwater models or in the calibration of existing groundwater models, thus they are valuable and should be archived.