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Seawater Intrusion and Sustainable Yield of Basal Aquifers


  • Paper No. JAWRA-10-0193-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA). Discussions are open until six months from print publication.



Liu, Clark C.K. and John J. Dai, 2012. Seawater Intrusion and Sustainable Yield of Basal Aquifers. Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA) 48(5): 861-870. DOI: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.2012.00659.x

Abstract:  Basal aquifers, in which freshwater floats on top of saltwater, are the major freshwater supply for the Hawaiian Islands, as well as many other coastal regions around the world. Under unexploited or natural conditions, freshwater and the underlying seawater are separated by a relatively sharp interface located below mean sea level at a depth of about 40 times the hydraulic head. With forced draft, the hydraulic head of a basal aquifer would decline and the sharp interface would move up. It is a serious problem of seawater intrusion as huge amounts of freshwater storage is replaced by saltwater. Also, with forced draft, the sharp interface is replaced by a transition zone in which the salinity increases downward from freshwater to saltwater. As pumping continues, the transition zone expands. The desirable source-water salinity in Hawaii is about 2% of the seawater salinity. Therefore, the transition zone expansion is another serious problem of seawater intrusion. In this study, a robust analytical groundwater flow and salinity transport model (RAM2) was developed. RAM2 has a simple mathematical structure and its model parameters can be determined satisfactorily with the available field monitoring data. The usefulness of RAM2 as a viable management tool for coastal ground water management is demonstrated by applying it to determine the sustainable yield of the Pearl Harbor aquifer, a principal water supply source in Hawaii.