Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016NV211B

Theoretical Analysis of Optimal Groundwater Basin Development

Institute: Nevada
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $19,479 Total Non-Federal Funds: $38,967

Principal Investigators: Clay Cooper

Abstract: It is commonly assumed that the sustainability of groundwater basins can be maintained as long as pumping from a well does not exceed the natural recharge of a basin. This is generally untrue, as natural recharge and discharge have little to do with the hydrologic budget of a basin undergoing development. Freeze (1971, Water Resources Research, 7(2), 347366) demonstrates conditions in which a groundwater basin can become unstable, resulting in the rapid decline of the water table. Although the approach uses numerical modeling, the results were more of a schematic of what might happen under one specific scenario. The objective of this research is to develop, both analytically and numerically, the conditions in which drastic water table can occur. The result will be a simple scaling analysis that can be used as a rule-of-thumb estimate of the conditions in which the water table may be marginally stable in a basin. An undergraduate student will be used to help with computer programming and data acquisition.