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Simulation of groundwater and surface-water interaction and lake resiliency at Crystal Lake, City of Crystal Lake, Illinois

February 28, 2024

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Crystal Lake, Illinois, started a study to increase understanding of groundwater and surface-water interaction between the glacial aquifer and the city’s namesake lake, Crystal Lake, and the effect of higher and lower precipitation conditions on groundwater and lake levels. The results from this study could be used by the city and others to aid in lake management strategies. This report describes the hydrologic lake budget and each of the budget components, which are then used in the construction, calibration, and application of a regional groundwater flow model. The flow model is used to simulate the shallow groundwater flow system and the lake responses to increased and decreased precipitation under the current weir elevation and the proposed lowered weir elevation.

Using the program groundwater flow analytic element model (GFLOW), a two-dimensional, steady-state model was constructed. The model was calibrated by matching target water levels and stream base flows by adjusting model input parameters. A sensitivity analysis was completed by adjusting the parameters within reasonable ranges and noting the magnitude of changes in model calibration targets. Potential effects of extended wet and dry periods (within historical ranges and published predicted ranges) were evaluated by adjusting precipitation, groundwater recharge, and discharge at Crystal Lake culvert outlet in the model and comparing the resulting simulated lake stage and water budgets to stages and water budgets from the calibrated model.

Model results under average, wet, and dry conditions with a lowered weir of 1 foot at the Crystal Lake culvert outlet indicate minor changes in the simulated lake-water budgets and associated lake levels and groundwater elevation contours; however, simulations with an increased outflow at the Crystal Lake culvert outlet decreased the lake water levels by as much as 1.87 feet and also decreased the groundwater levels surrounding the lake by about 1–2 feet during average and wet conditions.

Publication Year 2024
Title Simulation of groundwater and surface-water interaction and lake resiliency at Crystal Lake, City of Crystal Lake, Illinois
DOI 10.3133/sir20245007
Authors Amy M. Gahala, Emilia L. Bristow, Jennifer B. Sharpe, Benjamin G Metcalf, Lisa A. Matson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2024-5007
Index ID sir20245007
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Midwest Water Science Center