The process of aquifer recharge by flood events in an arid region was investigated as applied to the Hazeva Formation (the Karkom graben, the Wadi Paran watershed, Israel). The hydrological model was established as a complex system, with due regard for groundwater and transmission losses of surface runoff. It was based on a previously outlined hydrogeological model of the Karkom graben and a model of transmission losses in arid watercourses under conditions of data deficiency. Proceeding from calculation of groundwater balances, the contribution of surface runoff as a decisive balance component was confirmed. The main characteristics of aquifer regimes, such as changes in storage volume and groundwater level, as well as lateral flow, were all found to be dependent upon the net extraction rate, i.e. pumpage discounting replenishment by flood events. Analysis and physical interpretation of model parameters enabled assessment of the influence of groundwater extraction on aquifer recharge. This became apparent as increasing absorption capacity and recharge availability of the aquifer as a result of the groundwater abstraction. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.