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ENVM 585


97% of Earth’s water found in oceans
• Unfit for human consumption without
extensive (expensive) treatment
3% is ‘freshwater’
◦ Surface, ground, and airborne water
◦ Water from precipitation may become
more-easily usable if it falls on land
◦ ~ 47,000 km3 per year is renewable
Hydrologic Cycle
• Surface flow
• Ground flow
• Infiltration
• Evapotranspiration
• Combined loss
from evaporation
and transpiration
from plants and
• Precipitation
Major Losses of Water
Major natural losses of useful water (fresh water) are from
1. Evapotranspiration
2. Unrecovered infiltration

Major human induced loss is from:

1. Diversions of flows out of watersheds
Freshwater Use
in United States
• Average US water usage:
• ¼ groundwater
• ¾ surface water
• Average per capita water usage:
~110 gal/person/day (municipal)
• Excluding landscape:
• 1/3 for toilets
• 1/3 for bathing
• 1/3 for cooking (etc.)
Water Budget
Is a mass-balance equation that calculates the increase or
decrease in stored water (reservoirs, lakes, aquifers, etc.)
◦ in its simplest form:

I – O = ΔS
I = all sources of water entering the region
O= outflows of water out of the region
ΔS = storage over time for all natural and artificial reservoirs
Water Budget Variables
• Withdrawal is the use of water for any purpose that requires
it to be physically removed from a source
• Consumption is water that is not returned to the watershed
for further use
• May be used for:
• Food processing or vegetative growth
• In an industrial process and then discharged into air or incorporated into product
Water Budget Variables
• Non-withdrawal is the use of water for any purpose that does
not require it to be removed from the original source
• Such as navigation and to support fish and wildlife
• Other losses (not Consumption, but decreases available water supply):
1. Dead storage: at or below control or outlet levels
2. Diversion: from one river to another or one basin to another
3. Contamination that cannot be remediated readily ($$)
Mathematics of Hydrology
Must account for variables that may be difficult to characterize
and/or predict
◦ Rainfall: easy to measure, difficult to predict
◦ Future use: predict population and industrial growth, future tech
◦ Evapotranspiration: difficult to measure and predict
Many computer models exist to assist in predictions
◦ Some are good, some bad, none perfect
◦ Regardless, need to understand assumptions and constraints of
model to know when appropriate to use it
Mathematics of Hydrology
◦ Recurrence interval:
◦ Defines frequency of extreme events
◦ Number of years between occurrences of an event of a given magnitude (or greater)
(“100-year flood”)
◦ Statistically, there are only to possibilities:
1. The event will occur in a given year
2. The event will not occur in a given year
Mathematics of Hydrology
P= Probability of an event occurring in any given year

p (0 : N) = (1 – P) N Probability that an event will NOT occur during a

selected time interval

Z= 1 – (1 - )N Probability of an event occurring one time in
𝑇𝑅 any selected time interval
Water Quality
•1991 the USGS established
• National Water Quality Assessment Program
Trouble spots via protecting from non-point sources:
• Pesticides
• Nutrients
• Metals
• Volatile organic chemicals
• Naturally occurring pollutants
• Waterborne pathogens – Table 3.3
• Pharmaceuticals - interfere with endocrine systems
• Terrorism
Soil Moisture
• Most broadly used water source on Earth’s surface
• Without renewal it would be insufficient to support sustained
plant growth
• Important to know the frequency of water renewal and
length of time that water remains available
• Supply of soil moisture depends on:
1. Geographical location
2. Climate conditions
3. Geological structure
4. Soil type
• Major source of water for
1. Public consumption
2. Industrial uses
3. Crop irrigation
• Groundwater storage and transmission rates are affected by
1. Soil properties
2. Geologic conditions
◦ Difficult to quantify accurately
Groundwater Quality
• Source of 1/3 of US drinking water
• Contaminated by:
• Thousands of leaking underground storage tanks (UST)
• Industrial waste pits
• Landfills
• Home septic systems
• Accidental spills
• Deliberate dumping
Groundwater Quality
• National Research Council (1994):
◦ Estimates 300,000 to 400,000 sites in the USA have contaminated
soil or groundwater
◦ Bulk are leaking UST; avg. cost to cleanup $100,000
◦ Total estimate cost to clean to drinking water standards is
$480B - $1 Trillion
The Subsurface Distribution of Water
Two Zones:
1. Saturation: all voids are filled with water under hydrostatic
2. Aeration: voids are filled with air and water, has several subzones
1. Soil water zone
2. Hydroscopic Water
3. Capillary water
4. Gravitational Water
• Water that can be drained from soil by gravity is Specific Yield
Is a water bearing
stratum capable of
transmitting water in
quantities sufficient to
permit development of
water supply

Above is a map of all groundwater supplies in the United States. The

light blue section in the center of the map spanning the majority of the
United States from South Dakota to Texas is the Ogallala Aquifer.
Map Maker. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2008, from National Atlas: US Geological Survey: www-
Aquifer – 4 Categories
1. Those connected to surface supplies that are replenished via
gravitational flow
2. Regional Aquifer: aquafers occurring east of the 100th meridian, which
produce one of the largest permanent ground water yields
1. Ex. Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain
3. Low recharge aquifers between the 100th and the 120th meridians
1. Considered nonrenewable due to the low rate of replenishment
4. Aquifers subject to saline-water intrusion, typically found in coastal

• Groundwater storage is considerably greater than all

artificial and natural surface storage.
• Groundwater and surface water are independent
• Many aquifers are considered to be confined or
• Unconfined: part of water table exists at atmospheric
pressure (is above ground)
Aquifer notation Figure 3.3 a
Recharge Area Discharge

For confined aquifers:

Water table
• Often under immense pressure Perched aquifer
• If penetrated by a well, water

Groundwater System
Unconfined aquifer
Impermeable strata
may be forced to surface
• May also be pumped Confined aquifer
Confining Bed

Confined aquifer
Base of the groundwater system
Components of the hydrologic cycle
affecting groundwater- Figure 3.3 b
Safe Yield of Aquifer
Defined as: the quantity of water that can be withdrawn
annually without the aquifer’s being depleted
C Maximum rate at which water can be continuously
withdrawn from a given source
A Maximum volume of water that can be withdrawn
A. Permissive mining yield
legally and economically without causing B. Permissive sustained yield
undesired result C. Maximum sustained yield
D Total storage volume in a given source that can be D. Maximum mining yield
withdrawn and used
B Maximum rate that continuous withdraws can be
made without undesired results
Henry Darcy
French Engineer
Determined relationships for movement of water through
porous materials (rock)
Known for bringing water distribution system
to Dijon, France
Darcy’s Law
• Assumes flow through a porous media
• Assumes linearity between flow rate and hydraulic gradient
• Should only be used when medium is fully saturated
Flow rate (Q) is proportional to the cross sectional area (A) times the
hydraulic gradient (dh/dx)
Q = - KA (dh/dx)
Q is flow rate in m3/day
K is hydraulic conductivity in m/day see table
A is cross sectional area in m2
dh/dx is hydraulic gradient
Groundwater Flow

• It is important to remember
that water flows downhill
underground just like it does
above ground

Confined Aquifer
Darcy’s allows an estimate of:
• The velocity or flow rate moving
within the aquifer
• The average time of travel from
the head of the aquifer to
a point located downstream
• Very important for prediction
of arrival of contaminant
Confined Aquifer
Turbulence and Reynolds Number
The path a water molecule takes is
called a streamline. In laminar
flow, streamlines do not cross,
and the viscous forces due to
hydrogen bonds are important.
In turbulent flow acceleration and
large scale motion away from a
smooth path is important
Hydraulic Gradient
Hydraulic gradient is defined as the slope of the water table
(i.e., change in elevation over distance) measured in direction of the
steepest rate of change
Important because groundwater (GW) flow is in the direction of the
gradient and at the rate proportional to the gradient
◦ Hydraulic head: change in elevation from a datum plane (usually sea level) to the
water table with dimensions of length
◦ Gradient of two GW wells in a line is simply the difference in hydraulic head
divided by the horizontal distance between the wells

𝑑ℎ ℎ2 −ℎ1
𝑑𝑥 𝐿
Hydraulics of wells
• Collection of groundwater is mainly through the use of wells or
infiltration galleries
• This can be very difficult to calculate and mathematical models
are employed to estimate performance of the wells
• Wells have 3 components
1. Well structure
2. Pump
3. Discharge piping
• Water is pumped from the aquifer directly adjacent to the
screen of the well
Flow Nets
The procedure consists on drawing a set of perpendicular lines:
equipotential (~hydraulic conductivity) and flow lines
These set of lines are the solution to the Laplace’s equation
It is an iterative (and tedious!) process
Identify boundaries:
◦ First and last equipotential
◦ First and last flow lines
Equipotential Line

Flow Nets Flow Line

How to draw flow nets

1. Equipotential lines must match known boundary conditions

2. Flow lines never cross
3. Refraction of flow lines must account for differences in hydraulic
4. Flow lines must intersect at right angles
5. Flow line equipotential polygons should approach curvilinear squares
6. The quantity of flow between any two adjacent flow lines must be equal
7. The quantity of flow between any two stream lines is always constant
Theis and Jacob
•Calculate the drawdown in observation wells at distance r from
an operating well
• Non-equilibrium conditions
• Account for time and the storage characteristics of aquifer
• Drawdown decreases with distance from well (radially)
• Cone of depression
• Most calculations done using computer-based models
• Calculus and differential equations required
•We will not use this calculation in class (know the concept)
Boundary effects
If more than one well is drawing down water in a region the
individual drawdowns are summed for all wells involved.
Earlier calculations are for wells in homogeneous aquifers and of
infinite areal extent
◦ This is not likely to be how it is in the real world.
Regional groundwater systems
This is not looking at flow of water to individual wells but regional
well fields (complex)
They are typically analyzed using mathematical models that take into
account the physical, chemical, biological, and other processes that
occur in the aquifer
After parameters are set then the models are checked with historical
data to refine parameter values
◦ Goes along w/ understanding assumptions and limitations of model
◦ Using a model in a manner for which it was not designed will result in
BAD predictions
Models are simplified descriptions of physical
• can be verbal descriptions, graphical representations,
physical models, or mathematical equations

Ground-water flow equations are solved on a

computer by two main methods:
• Finite differences and finite elements
• Both solve the ground-water flow equations for a
conceptual model (Fig A) across a model grid
To model a ground-water system (fig. A):
• Divide system into discrete units (cells)
• Consists of a grid system with one or more layers or
• Finite-difference grids are regular rectangular
grids (fig. B)
• Finite-element grids are irregular polygonal
subdivisions (fig. C)
• Grid types reflect mathematical techniques used to
solve ground-water flow equations
• Grids can represent one-, two-, or three-dimensional
Saltwater Intrusion
Freshwater is lighter than salt water
• Floats above the layer of sea water
• When aquifer is pumped there is a
disturbance to the equilibrium
• Causes the salt water to mix with
fresh water
Groundwater Recharge
Annual natural recharge of groundwater
is small
• Slow penetration of precipitation and
surface water

Artificial returns:
• Holding basins
• Stream channels and ditches
• Increase recharge area
• Lateral
• Tree shaped
• Contour
• Flooding provides some economical means of recharge
• Injection wells
• Injection rate always slower than withdrawal at same pressures, etc.
Concurrent Development of Water
Surface and groundwater combined
Annual water supply met by surface storage and groundwater
storage used for covering periods of dry years.
To establish a dam you need to meet and solve three problems
1. Establish design criteria for the dam and recharge facilities
2. Determine the service area for the combined system
3. Develop a set of operating rules that defines reservoir drafts and pump
volumes to be taken
Surface Water – Quantity and Quality
• Only ~ 4% of the US land mass is covered by rivers, lakes, and
• NOT evenly distributed
• Volume of these fresh water sources depend on
• Human, environmental, temporal, seasonal variables
• Models become a valuable tool for estimating future water supply
scenarios based on assumed sequences of hydrologic variables
• Precipitation Models can be challenged and ‘verified’
• Temperature using historical data
• Evapotranspiration • They are still just a ‘best guess’
Surface Water cont.
• Surface water supplies may be categorized as
• Natural lakes
• Unregulated rivers
• Perennial
• Continuous
• Regulated rivers
• Rivers that contain impoundments
Surface Water cont.
• Data must be collected to properly evaluate usage scenarios
• Climate
• Hydrology
• Water quality
• Geology
• Topography of the area
• Must also collect data on
• Industrial, municipal, agricultural use
• Forecasts of future use
Surface Water Cont.
Approximately 30% of the average
annual rainfall in the United States
becomes surface water runoff

Run off is subject to temporal and

seasonal variations in climate and
• Example: high percentage of runoff in
arid regions of the US (SW) due to
snow melts (little or no runoff
summer – winter)
Model projections of changes in median runoff for 2041-2060

Milly, P. C. D., J. Betancourt, M. Falkenmark, R. M. Hirsch, Z. W. Kundzewicz, D. P. Lettenmaier, and R. J. Stouffer. "Stationarity Is Dead: Whither Water Management?" Science 319, no. 5863
(2008): 573-574.
Surface Water Storage
• Why is water stored?
1. Navigation
2. Flood control
3. Hydroelectric power
4. Irrigation
5. Municipal water supply
6. Pollution abatement
7. Recreation
8. Flow augmentation
Surface Water Storage
• Reservoirs can ‘regulate’ flow by storing water for later release
• Regulation is the amount of water stored or released from
storage in a period of time (usually per year)
• 13% of total river flow (in US) has been made available through
reservoir storage
• Greatest reserved volume: Colorado River Basin
• Least: Ohio River Basin
• Built to optimize the development of surface water flows
Inflows need to be calculated with respect to time
• Ensures demand is met and res doesn’t overfill
• Typically Res Managers use continuous simulations that
use data sets that cover many years
• Include major hydrologic conditions
such as flooding or drought
Loss from Storage
• Natural loss
• Evaporation
• Actually greater than normal
• Countered w/ direct capture of
• Seepage
• Depends on geology
(porous rock)
• Siltation
• Sediment inflow

• Artificial loss
• Withdrawals
Impacts of Climate Change on Global
Engineers need to consider:
• How does temperature change availability?
• What are the possible water quality issues?
2007 Climate Change Report noted changes in:
• Glacial ice
• Increased avalanches
• Changes in permafrost
• Ecosystems in the Artic and Anarchic
Climate Change

• Affect water supplies

• Municipalities
• Agriculture
• Industry
• Environmental
Climate Change
Used to be called “Global Warming”
• In general, average T of entire globe is increasing
over time
• More easily observable phenomena:
• Changes in rain fall (not all increasing)
• Severity of storm events (frequency of severe)
• Potential for devastating impacts on regions that
need the precipitation in the form of snow
• Snowmelt provides majority of water to river
systems like the Colorado river basin
• Changes in climate may cause snow to fall
Model projections of changes in median runoff for 2041-2060 elsewhere, etc.
Additional Resources
A very thorough, but very boring example of Darcy’s Law Calculation