Surface-water bodies are integral parts of groundwater flow systems. Groundwater interacts with surface water in nearly all landscapes, ranging from small streams, lakes, and wetlands in headwater areas to major river valleys and seacoasts. Although it generally is assumed that topographically high areas are groundwater recharge areas and topographically low areas are groundwater discharge areas, this is true primarily for regional flow systems. The superposition of local flow systems associated with surface-water bodies on this regional framework results in complex interactions between groundwater and surface water in all landscapes, regardless of regional topographic position. Hydrologic processes associated with the surface-water bodies themselves, such as seasonally high surface-water levels and evaporation and transpiration of groundwater from around the perimeter of surfacewater bodies, are a major cause of the complex and seasonally dynamic groundwater flow fields associated with surface water. These processes have been documented at research sites in glacial, dune, coastal, mantled karst, and riverine terrains.
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Relation of streams, lakes, and wetlands to groundwater flow systems