Approaches for modeling lake-ground water interactions have evolved significantly from early simulations that used fixed lake stages specified as constant head to sophisticated LAK packages for MODFLOW. Although model input can be complex, the LAK package capabilities and output are superior to methods that rely on a fixed lake stage and compare well to other simple methods where lake stage can be calculated. Regardless of the approach, guidelines presented here for model grid size, location of three-dimensional flow, and extent of vertical capture can facilitate the construction of appropriately detailed models that simulate important lake-ground water interactions without adding unnecessary complexity. In addition to MODFLOW approaches, lake simulation has been formulated in terms of analytic elements. The analytic element lake package had acceptable agreement with a published LAK1 problem, even though there were differences in the total lake conductance and number of layers used in the two models. The grid size used in the original LAK1 problem, however, violated a grid size guideline presented in this paper. Grid sensitivity analyses demonstrated that an appreciable discrepancy in the distribution of stream and lake flux was related to the large grid size used in the original LAK1 problem. This artifact is expected regardless of MODFLOW LAK package used. When the grid size was reduced, a finite-difference formulation approached the analytic element results. These insights and guidelines can help ensure that the proper lake simulation tool is being selected and applied.
Additional publication details
Simulating ground water-lake interactions: Approaches and insights