A transient flow modeling analysis for potential public-supply wells on western Cape Cod, Massachusetts, demonstrates the difference between transient and steady-state recharge areas can have important implications for wellhead protection. An example of a single pumping well illustrates that commonly, used steady-state time-related capture areas do not represent the recharge area and travel times of water being pumped from the well until sufficient time has elapsed for steady-state flow conditions to be established. Until that time, transient recharge areas are needed to account for the portion of water discharging from the well that entered the aquifer before pumping started. An example of two pumping wells demonstrates the same area at the water table cannot supply water to more than one well under steady-state flow conditions. Transient recharge areas to multiple wells can overlap, however, until steady-state flow conditions are established. The same area can, therefore, be a source of water to more than one well during early pumping times, and the water pumped from a given well may derive from source areas, including contaminated areas, that do not lie within the well's steady-state recharge area.
Additional publication details
Transient Analysis of the Source of Water to Wells: Cape Cod, Massachusetts