Approximate Solutions for Radial Travel Time and Capture Zone in Unconfined Aquifers


Water Engineering Department, UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Westvest 7, P.O. Box 3015, 2601 DA Delft, The Netherlands; (31) 15-2151790; fax: (31) 15-2122921;


Radial time-of-travel (TOT) capture zones have been evaluated for unconfined aquifers with and without recharge. The solutions of travel time for unconfined aquifers are rather complex and have been replaced with much simpler approximate solutions without significant loss of accuracy in most practical cases. The current “volumetric method” for calculating the radius of a TOT capture zone assumes no recharge and a constant aquifer thickness. It was found that for unconfined aquifers without recharge, the volumetric method leads to a smaller and less protective wellhead protection zone when ignoring drawdowns. However, if the saturated thickness near the well is used in the volumetric method a larger more protective TOT capture zone is obtained. The same is true when the volumetric method is used in the presence of recharge. However, for that case it leads to unreasonableness over the prediction of a TOT capture zone of 5 years or more.