Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in GROUND WATER, Vol. 39, No.5, Sepember-October 2001 (pages 651-659)


Commonly used analytical approaches for estimation of pumping-induced drawdown and stream depletion are based on a series of idealistic assumptions about the stream-aquifer system. Anew solution has been developed for estimation of drawdown and stream depletion under conditions that are more representative of those in natural systems (finite width stream of shallow penetration adjoining an aquifer of limited lateral extent). This solution shows that the conventional assumption of a fully penetrating stream will lead to a significant overestimation of stream depletion (> 100%) in many practical applications. The degree of overestimation will depend on the value of the stream leakance parameter and the distance from the pumping well to the stream. Although leakance will increase with stream width, a very wide stream will not necessarily be well represented by a model of a fully penetrating stream. The impact of lateral boundaries depends upon the distance from the pumping well to the stream and the stream leakance parameter. In most cases, aquifer width must be on the order of hundreds of stream widths before the assumption of a laterally infinite aquifer is appropriate for stream-depletion calculations. An important assumption underlying this solution is that stream-channel penetration is negligible relative to aquifer thickness. However, an approximate extension to the case of nonnegligible penetration provides reasonable results for the range of relative penetrations found in most natural systems (up to 85%). Since this solution allows consideration of a much wider range of conditions than existing analytical approaches, it could prove to be a valuable new tool for water management design and water rights adjudication purposes.