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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Riverside, California » Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #367130

Research Project: Sustaining Irrigated Agriculture in an Era of Increasing Water Scarcity and Reduced Water Quality

Location: Agricultural Water Efficiency and Salinity Research Unit

Title: Groundwater recharge from drywells under constant head conditions

item SASIDHARAN, SALINI - University Of California
item Bradford, Scott
item ŠIMUNEK, JIRÍ - University Of California
item KRAEMER, STEPHEN - Us Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Submitted to: Journal of Hydrology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/9/2020
Publication Date: 1/11/2020
Citation: Sasidharan, S., Bradford, S.A., Šimunek, J., Kraemer, S. 2020. Groundwater recharge from drywells under constant head conditions. Journal of Hydrology. 583.

Interpretive Summary: Drywells are increasingly used in the Southwest of the United States to capture stormwater and to enhance recharge to groundwater. However, little research has quantitatively determined the influence of variability in soil texture on recharge from drywells. A mathematical model was therefore used to investigate this issue over 365 days. Results demonstrate that the amount and rate of groundwater recharge from drywells is highly dependent on variability in soil textural properties because of its influence on water spreading, water storage, and the arrival time and location of recharge water. This information has important implications for monitoring and assess the risks of contaminants from drywells, and will be of interest to scientists, engineers, water districts, and government regulators that are interested in the use of drywells to sustainably manage groundwater supplies.

Technical Abstract: Drywells are widely used as managed aquifer recharge devices to capture stormwater runoff and recharge groundwater, but little research has examined the role of subsurface heterogeneity in hydraulic properties on drywell recharge efficiency. Numerical experiments were therefore conducted on a 2D-axisymmetric domain using the HYDRUS (2D/3D) software to systematically study the influence of various homogenous soil types and subsurface heterogeneity on recharge from drywells under constant head conditions. The mean cumulative infiltration (µI) and recharge (µR) volumes increased with an increase in the saturated hydraulic conductivity () for various homogeneous soils. Subsurface heterogeneity was described by generating ten stochastic realizations of soil hydraulic properties with selected standard deviation (s), and horizontal (X) and vertical (Z) correlation lengths. After 365 days, values of µI, µR, and the radius of the recharge area increased with s and X but decreased with Z. The value of µR was always smaller for a homogeneous than a heterogeneous domain. This indicates that recharge for a heterogeneous profile cannot be estimated with an equivalent homogeneous profile. The value of µR was always smaller than µI and correlations were highly non-linear due to vadose zone storage. Knowledge of only infiltration volume can, therefore, lead to misinterpretation of recharge efficiency, especially at earlier times. The arrival time of the wetting front at the bottom boundary (60 m) ranged from 21 to 317 days, with earlier times occurring for increasing s and Z. The corresponding first arrival location can be 0.1–44 m away from the bottom releasing point of a drywell in the horizontal direction, with greater distances occurring for increasing s and X. This knowledge is important to accurately assess drywell recharged performance, water quantity, and water quality.