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Richard Johnson Institute of Environmental Health

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Richard Johnson


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Modeling the potential impact of seasonal and inactive Multi-Aquifer wells on contaminant movement to public Water-Supply wells

R.L. Johnson; B.R. Clark; M.K. Landon; L.J. Kauffman; S.M. Eberts

(Profiled Author: Richard Johnson)

Journal of the American Water Resources Association. 2011;47(3):588-596.


Wells screened across multiple aquifers can provide pathways for the movement of surprisingly large volumes of groundwater to confined aquifers used for public water supply (PWS). Using a simple numerical model, we examine the impact of several pumping scenarios on leakage from an unconfined aquifer to a confined aquifer and conclude that a single inactive multi-aquifer well can contribute nearly 10% of total PWS well flow over a wide range of pumping rates. This leakage can occur even when the multi-aquifer well is more than a kilometer from the PWS well. The contribution from multi-aquifer wells may be greater under conditions where seasonal pumping (e.g., irrigation) creates large, widespread downward hydraulic gradients between aquifers. Under those conditions, water can continue to leak down a multi-aquifer well from an unconfined aquifer to a confined aquifer even when those multi-aquifer wells are actively pumped. An important implication is that, if an unconfined aquifer is contaminated, multi-aquifer wells can increase the vulnerability of a confined-aquifer PWS well. © 2011 American Water Resources Association. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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