# Lecture 21: Groundwater: Hydraulic Conductivity

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1 Lecture 21: Groundwater: Hydraulic Conductivity Key Questions 1. What causes groundwater to move? 2. What is the hydraulic conductivity? 3. What is Darcy s Law? 4. How is groundwater velocity estimated? 5. What makes good aquifers in the Puget Lowlands? 6. What is a cone of depression? Niigata Japan, 1964 liquefaction

2 Groundwater supports streamflow in between rain events (baseflow) groundwater Hydrograph base flow Time

3 Groundwater movement controls the transport of contaminants A B

4 A hydraulic gradient causes water to move A B water has hydraulic head (pressure and gravitational energy) at location A water has hydraulic head (pressure and gravitational energy) at location B

5 The hydraulic gradient is the change in total head divided the distance over which the change occurs. hydraulic gradient = Δh/ΔL h A Δh = h A -h B h B Δh ΔL

6 The hydraulic conductivity of the sediment will resist the water flow small area available for flow, low hydraulic condcutivty large grains, large area available for flow, large hydraulic conductivity

7 Smaller grains, means smaller pores (area available for flow), and more frictional resistance, and hence lower hydraulic conductivity

8 Darcy s Law Q/A = -K(Δh/ΔL) slope = K = hydraulic conductivity Δh ΔL K Q/A Q Δh/ΔL

9 Darcy s Law states that the amount of water (Q) flowing through porous media depends on the energy driving the water flow (Δh/ΔL) and the hydraulic conductivity (K) of the porous media Q/A = -K(Δh/ΔL) h 1 Δh = h 2 h 1 h2 Q ΔL A

10 The average velocity of the water is the Darcy equation divided by the porosity of the sediment. average pore water velocity v = -K/n(Δh/ΔL)

11 Most aquifers in the Puget Lowlands are unconsolidated glacial deposits

12 Glacial Deposits

13 ice weight Till deposited beneath a glacier, it is a well compacted mixture of grain sizes (till does NOT make good aquifers)

14 outwash loose (uncompacted) sands and gravels deposited by melt-water streams and rivers receding glacier (melting) till

15 Glacial outwash makes the most productive aquifers

16 glaciomarine drift clay rich sediment deposited in the sea by melting ice melting floating ice sea water glaciomarine drift does NOT make good aquifers

17

18 Point Wilson Double Bluff

19 Whatcom County Glacial Aquifers

20 Whatcom County Glacial Deposits

21 Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer The aquifer covers approximately 200 km 2 and serves as a water supply for approximately 110,000 people in BC and WA.

22 Ground Water Flow is from North-to-South

23 Abbotsford-Sumas Aquifer The aquifer is unconfined and comprised of glacial outwash sands and gravels (Sumas Outwash) deposited about 10,000 years ago. Sumas Outwash m 1-10 m Glaciomarine Drift BC WA

24 Sumas Outwash gravel mine in Whatcom County

25 26 wells Well Sampling Sites

26 Water-level measurements

27 26 wells Well Sampling Sites

28 Water Table Hydrographs

29 hydraulic gradient = Δh/ΔL h A Δh = h A -h B h B Δh ΔL

30 Well Sampling Sites Flow is in the southeast direction (155 o ) and is drive by a gradient of Δh ΔL = wells

31 The average hydraulic gradient in the Abbotsford-Sumas aquifer is Δh/ΔL = The average hydraulic conductivity of the glacial sediments is K = 545 ft/day or K = cm/sec The average porosity of the glacial sediments is n = 0.30

32 The average pore-water velocity can be determined using velocity = v = -K/n (Δh/ΔL) Using the aquifer parameters in the equation above yields velocity = v = -545/0.30( ) = 10 ft/day which is very fast for groundwater

33 The average groundwater velocity is 10 ft/day How long would it take water to travel from well A to well B If the distance from A to B is 1000 ft A B

34 Time = distance velocity Time = 1000 ft 10 ft/day Time = 100 days A B

35 If the aquifer were a fine sand with a hydraulic conductivity of 5.45 ft/day then the Velocity = 0.10 ft/day Time = 1000 ft 0.10 ft/day Time = 10,000 days or 27 years!! A B

36 Pumping wells create a cone-of-depression in the water table

37 well screen the pump sits inside the well screen

38 water flow

39 sand Well A gravel Well B

40 Q A = Q B = pumping rate sand Q A gravel Q B cone of depression

41 Q A Q A = Q B = pumping rate Q B sand gravel low permeability steep slope high permeability shallow slope The slope of the cone of depression is determined by the permeability

42 Q A Q A < Q B Q B sand sand low permeability low permeability The depth of the cone of depression is determined by the pumping rate

43 Q A Q B = Q A Q B sand sand r A r B low permeability The radius of the cone of depression is determined by the pumping duration r A < r B

44

45 Study Area ~ 6 sq miles

46 Coarse gravels and sands BC WA Water table is just below the ground surface

47 Pumping wells can influence neighboring wells

48 irrigation well Irrigation Well

49 Over pumping of irrigation well lowers the water table below the domestic well (water rights)

50 Groundwater surface water interactions A pumping well can influence streamflow

51 Irrigation Wells in the study area

52 Sate law highly restricts the water rights of farmers

53 However, State law allows Exempt wells (low use wells). So, farmers could sell there land for subdivisions and many homes can drill a well without needing a water right. This is a problem.

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