Predicting Collector Well Yields with MODFLOW



Groundwater flow models are commonly used to design new wells and wellfields. As the spatial scale of the problem is large and much local-scale detail is not needed, modelers often utilize two-dimensional (2D) or quasi three-dimensional models based on the Dupuit-Forchheimer assumption. Dupuit models offer a robust set of tools for simulating regional groundwater flow including interactions with surface waters, the potential for well interference, and varying aquifer properties and recharge rates. However, given an assumed operating water level or drawdown at a well screen, Dupuit models systematically overpredict well yields. For design purposes, this discrepancy is unacceptable, and a method for predicting accurate well yields is needed. While published methods exist for vertical wells, little guidance is available for predicting yields in horizontal screens or collector wells. In plan view, a horizontal screen has a linear geometry, and will likely extend over several neighboring cells that may not align with rows or columns in a numerical model. Furthermore, the model must account for the effects of converging three-dimensional (3D) flow to the well screens and hydraulic interference among the well screens; these all depend on the design of a specific well. This paper presents a new method for simulating the yield of angled or horizontal well screens in numerical groundwater flow models, specifically using the USGS code MODFLOW. The new method is compared to a detailed, 3D analytic element model of a collector well in a field of uniform flow.