State Water Resources Research Institute Program (WRRI)
USGS Grant Number:
Start Date: 2004-09-01 End Date: 2006-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $91,197 Total Non-Federal Funds: $91,197
Principal Investigators: Yu-Feng Lin, Albert Valocchi
Abstract: Recharge and discharge rates define the relationships between groundwater, precipitation, and surface water, and thus can restrict management options for water supply, and result from of a set of complex, uncertain processes that generally are difficult to study. Conventional recharge and discharge estimation methods require time-consuming field experiments or data collection. Several researchers have developed a recharge and discharge estimation method using readily available information to decrease the processing time. However, there is currently no single method capable of estimating recharge and discharge for all practical applications. Therefore, cross analyzing estimations from various methods will be more adequate approach than using only single estimation method. The management of water resources in northeastern Illinois is complicated by international and interstate agreements, hydraulically coupled aquifer systems, natural and anthropogenic contamination, groundwater / surface water interaction, and conjunctive use of multiple resources. The net effect of these complications is that withdrawals from Lake Michigan cannot be increased beyond current rates, and the withdrawals from the deep bedrock aquifers may already be at their maximum. Urban planners have concluded that the regions growing population will need to investigate the shallow aquifers as a source of water to meet growing demands. The proposed research will start with improving a digital procedure to couple multiple recharge and discharge estimation methods that require relatively short preparation time and uses readily available data, and thus apply the improved methods to estimate shallow recharge and discharge in northeastern Illinois. This digital procedure currently exists as a complex series of algorithms executed across mixed programming environments and data formats. Therefore, the proposed research first requires developing software that implements and integrates these algorithms in a common environment. The procedure developed within the proposed research will include a Pattern Recognition Utility (PRU), written as a generic Visual Basic plug-in for GIS software. The developed program will have upgradeable capability based on module concept for incorporating additional R/D estimation methods and permit the comparison of newly developed estimation methods as they become available. The software will be tested against a numerical model of a hypothetical aquifer to test its accuracy in reproducing known results. This will be followed by several field tests in Wisconsin, which have been intensively studied by the USGS and Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey. After the software is successfully tested, the software will use readily available data in GIS format to 1) estimate recharge and discharge rates to shallow aquifers in northeastern Illinois; and 2) determine spatial trends in recharge and discharge rates in select undeveloped, agricultural, and urban watersheds in the same region. The results of the proposed research therefore will be accessible and beneficial across the hydrologic sciences, with potential uses including water resources planning and management, the evaluation of groundwater development alternatives, and the modeling of the fate and transport of environmental contaminants. This proposed project will be developed by the joined efforts of graduate students and researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Illinois State Water Survey, and USGS (Wisconsin office).