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Capture versus capture zones: Clarifying terminology related to sources of water to wells

March 15, 2018

The term capture, related to the source of water derived from wells, has been used in two distinct yet related contexts by the hydrologic community. The first is a water‐budget context, in which capture refers to decreases in the rates of groundwater outflow and (or) increases in the rates of recharge along head‐dependent boundaries of an aquifer in response to pumping. The second is a transport context, in which capture zone refers to the specific flowpaths that define the three‐dimensional, volumetric portion of a groundwater flow field that discharges to a well. A closely related issue that has become associated with the source of water to wells is streamflow depletion, which refers to the reduction in streamflow caused by pumping, and is a type of capture. Rates of capture and streamflow depletion are calculated by use of water‐budget analyses, most often with groundwater‐flow models. Transport models, particularly particle‐tracking methods, are used to determine capture zones to wells. In general, however, transport methods are not useful for quantifying actual or potential streamflow depletion or other types of capture along aquifer boundaries. To clarify the sometimes subtle differences among these terms, we describe the processes and relations among capture, capture zones, and streamflow depletion, and provide proposed terminology to distinguish among them.

Publication Year 2018
Title Capture versus capture zones: Clarifying terminology related to sources of water to wells
DOI 10.1111/gwat.12661
Authors Paul M. Barlow, Stanley A. Leake, Michael N. Fienen
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Groundwater
Index ID 70216327
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Office of Ground Water