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Effects of groundwater pumping in the lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin

January 1, 2012

USGS developed a groundwater-flow model of the Upper Floridan aquifer in lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin in southwest Georgia and adjacent parts of Alabama and Florida to determine the effect of agricultural groundwater pumping on aquifer/stream flow within the basin. Aquifer/stream flow is the sum of groundwater outflow to and inflow from streams, and is an important consideration for water managers in the development of water-allocation and operating plans. Specifically, the model was used to evaluate how agricultural pumping relates to 7Q10 low streamflow, a statistical low flow indicative of drought conditions that would occur during seven consecutive days, on average, once every 10 years. Argus ONETM, a software package that combines a geographic information system (GIS) and numerical modeling in an Open Numerical Environment, facilitated the design of a detailed finite-element mesh to represent the complex geometry of the stream system in the lower basin as a groundwater-model boundary. To determine the effects on aquifer/stream flow of pumping at different locations within the model area, a pumping rate equivalent to a typical center-pivot irrigation system (50,000 ft3/d) was applied individually at each of the 18,951 model nodes in repeated steady-state simulations that were compared to a base case representing drought conditions during October 1999. Effects of nodal pumping on aquifer/stream flow and other boundary flows, as compared with the base-case simulation, were computed and stored in a response matrix. Queries to the response matrix were designed to determine the sensitivity of targeted stream reaches to agricultural pumping. Argus ONE enabled creation of contour plots of query results to illustrate the spatial variation across the model area of simulated aquifer/streamflow reductions, expressed as a percentage of the long-term 7Q10 low streamflow at key USGS gaging stations in the basin. These results would enable water managers to assess the relative impact of agricultural pumping and drought conditions on streamflow throughout the basin, and to develop mitigation strategies to conserve water resources and preserve aquatic habitat.

Publication Year 2012
Title Effects of groundwater pumping in the lower Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin
Authors L. Elliott Jones
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70156679
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization South Atlantic Water Science Center