Delineation and Analysis of Uncertainty of Contributing Areas to Wells at the Southbury Training School, Southbury, Connecticut

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2000-4158

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Contributing areas to public-supply wells at the Southbury Training School in Southbury, Connecticut, were mapped by simulating ground-water flow in stratified glacial deposits in the lower Transylvania Brook watershed. The simulation used nonlinear regression methods and informational statistics to estimate parameters of a ground-water flow model using drawdown data from an aquifer test. The goodness of fit of the model and the uncertainty associated with model predictions were statistically measured. A watershed-scale model, depicting large-scale ground-water flow in the Transylvania Brook watershed, was used to estimate the distribution of groundwater recharge. Estimates of recharge from 10 small basins in the watershed differed on the basis of the drainage characteristics of each basin. Small basins having well-defined stream channels contributed less ground-water recharge than basins having no defined channels because potential ground-water recharge was carried away in the stream channel. Estimates of ground-water recharge were used in an aquifer-scale parameter-estimation model. Seven variations of the ground-water-flow system were posed, each representing the ground-water-flow system in slightly different but realistic ways. The model that most closely reproduced measured hydraulic heads and flows with realistic parameter values was selected as the most representative of the ground-water-flow system and was used to delineate boundaries of the contributing areas. The model fit revealed no systematic model error, which indicates that the model is likely to represent the major characteristics of the actual system. Parameter values estimated during the simulation are as follows: horizontal hydraulic conductivity of coarse-grained deposits, 154 feet per day; vertical hydraulic conductivity of coarse-grained deposits, 0.83 feet per day; horizontal hydraulic conductivity of fine-grained deposits, 29 feet per day; specific yield, 0.007; specific storage, 1.6E-05. Average annual recharge was estimated using the watershed-scale model with no parameter estimation and was determined to be 24 inches per year in the valley areas and 9 inches per year in the upland areas. The parameter estimates produced in the model are similar to expected values, with two exceptions. The estimated specific yield of the stratified glacial deposits is lower than expected, which could be caused by the layered nature of the deposits. The recharge estimate produced by the model was also lower?about 32 percent of the average annual rate. This could be caused by the timing of the aquifer test with respect to the annual cycle of ground-water recharge, and by some of the expected recharge going to parts of the flow system that were not simulated. The data used in the calibration were collected during an aquifer test from October 30 to November 4, 1996. The model fit was very good, as indicated by the correlation coefficient (0.999) between the weighted simulated values and weighted observed values. The model also reproduced the general rise in ground-water levels caused by ground-water recharge and the cyclic fluctuations caused by pumping prior to the aquifer test. Contributing areas were delineated using a particle-tracking procedure. Hypothetical particles of water were introduced at each model cell in the top layer and were tracked to determine whether or not they reached the pumped well. A deterministic contributing area was calculated using the calibrated model, and a probabilistic contributing area was calculated using a Monte Carlo approach along with the calibrated model. The Monte Carlo simulation was done, using the parameter variance/covariance matrix generated by the regression model, to estimate probabilities associated with the contributing area to the wells. The probabilities arise from uncertainty in the estimated parameter values, which in turn arise from the adequacy of the data available to comprehensively describe the groundwater-flow sy

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USGS Numbered Series
Delineation and Analysis of Uncertainty of Contributing Areas to Wells at the Southbury Training School, Southbury, Connecticut
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Water-Resources Investigations Report
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U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ;Branch of Information Services [distributor],
v, 54 p. :ill., maps (some col.) ;28 cm.