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Providing realistic recharge distributions in arid zones

Paper from the Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Mine Water Solutions in Extreme Environments held in Vancouver, Canada, April 12-15, 2015. (downloadable PDF)

Authors: Saul Montoya, Gidahatari, Lima, Peru; Todd Hamilton, SRK Consulting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Published by InfoMine Inc. 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-9917905-7-9


Spatial distribution of groundwater recharge is often poorly defined in numerical groundwater models, particularly for arid-zone studies. To facilitate a good understanding of the climatic water balance, better appreciation of the groundwater recharge distribution is often required.

The determination of water surplus or deficit using monthly climatic water balances and a soil reservoir method for a variety of surface cover types may work well for humid climates, but does not work well in arid or semi-arid zones, where monthly water deficits occur through most, or all, of the year, and groundwater recharge occurs usually as isolated rainfall or snowmelt events of extended duration (e.g., one to five days).

Catchment and basin-scale daily hydrological balances have been developed using the USGS Precipitation-Runoff Modelling System (PRMS) software. PRMS is a deterministic and distributed modular system developed to evaluate the effects of various combinations of precipitation, temperature, geomorphology, surface soil and vegetative cover on water storage, surface runoff and groundwater recharge of the basin.

Two basin-scale models in seasonally arid and semi-arid environments have been used to derive estimates of snowmelt, runoff and groundwater recharge. The estimates were correlated against stream flow estimates and well hydrograph data, and generally showed good correspondence. The models were then used to forward model future response of the basin to average, dry and wet conditions and water-use changes. The groundwater recharge distributions generated were input to regional groundwater models.

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