The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Southern Utah Valley Municipal Water Association, updated an existing USGS model of southern Utah and Goshen Valleys for hydrologic and climatic conditions from 1991 to 2011 and used the model for projection and groundwater management simulations. All model files used in the transient model were updated to be compatible with MODFLOW-2005 and with the additional stress periods. The well and recharge files had the most extensive changes. Discharge to pumping wells in southern Utah and Goshen Valleys was estimated and simulated on an annual basis from 1991 to 2011. Recharge estimates for 1991 to 2011 were included in the updated model by using precipitation, streamflow, canal diversions, and irrigation groundwater withdrawals for each year. The model was evaluated to determine how well it simulates groundwater conditions during recent increased withdrawals and drought, and to determine if the model is adequate for use in future planning. In southern Utah Valley, the magnitude and direction of annual water-level fluctuation simulated by the updated model reasonably match measured water-level changes, but they do not simulate as much decline as was measured in some locations from 2000 to 2002. Both the rapid increase in groundwater withdrawals and the total groundwater withdrawals in southern Utah Valley during this period exceed the variations and magnitudes simulated during the 1949 to 1990 calibration period. It is possible that hydraulic properties may be locally incorrect or that changes, such as land use or irrigation diversions, occurred that are not simulated. In the northern part of Goshen Valley, simulated water-level changes reasonably match measured changes. Farther south, however, simulated declines are much less than measured declines. Land-use changes indicate that groundwater withdrawals in Goshen Valley are possibly greater than estimated and simulated. It is also possible that irrigation methods, amount of diversions, or other factors have changed that are not simulated or that aquifer properties are incorrectly simulated. The model can be used for projections about the effects of future groundwater withdrawals and managed aquifer recharge in southern Utah Valley, but rapid changes in withdrawals and increasing withdrawals dramatically may reduce the accuracy of the predicted water-level and groundwater-budget changes. The model should not be used for projections in Goshen Valley until additional withdrawal and discharge data are collected and the model is recalibrated if necessary. Model projections indicate large drawdowns of up to 400 feet and complete cessation of natural discharge in some areas with potential future increases in water use. Simulated managed aquifer recharge counteracts those effects. Groundwater management examples indicate that drawdown could be less, and discharge at selected springs could be greater, with optimized groundwater withdrawals and managed aquifer recharge than without optimization. Recalibration to more recent stresses and seasonal stress periods, and collection of new withdrawal, stream, land-use, and discharge data could improve the model fit to water-level changes and the accuracy of predictions.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Evaluation of the groundwater flow model for southern Utah and Goshen Valleys, Utah, updated to conditions through 2011, with new projections and groundwater management simulations