• groundwater hydrology;
  • simulation;
  • drinking water;
  • nonpoint source pollution;
  • point source pollution;
  • source water protection;
  • water supply

Johnson, R.L., B.R. Clark, M.K. Landon, L.J. Kauffman, and S.M. Eberts, 2011. Modeling the Potential Impact of Seasonal and Inactive Multi-Aquifer Wells on Contaminant Movement to Public Water-Supply Wells. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 47(3):588-596. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2011.00526.x

Abstract:  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.