A solute-transport model of an irrigated stream-aquifer system was recalibrated because of discrepancies between prior predictions of ground-water salinity trends during 1971-1982 and the observed outcome in February 1982. The original model was calibrated with a 1-year record of data collected during 1971-1972 in an 18-km reach of the Arkansas River Valley in southeastern Colorado. The model is improved by incorporating additional hydrologic processes (salt transport through the unsaturated zone) and through reexamination of the reliability of some input data (regression relationship used to estimate salinity from specific conductance data). Extended simulations using the recalibrated model are made to investigate the usefulness of the model for predicting long-term trends of salinity and water levels within the study area. Predicted ground-water levels during 1971-1982 are in good agreement with the observed, indicating that the original 1971-1972 study period was sufficient to calibrate the flow model. However, long-term simulations using the recalibrated model based on recycling the 1971-1972 data alone yield an average ground-water salinity for 1982 that is too low by about 10%. Simulations that incorporate observed surface-water salinity variations yield better results, in that the calculated average ground-water salinity for 1982 is within 3% of the observed value. Statistical analysis of temporal salinity variations of the applied surface water indicates that at least a 4-year sampling period is needed to accurately calibrate the transport model. ?? 1986.
Additional publication details
Recalibration and predictive reliability of a solute-transport model of an irrigated stream-aquifer system