Hydraulically and statistically based methods were analyzed to identify the most reliable method to predict spring flows in a karst aquifer. Measured water levels at nearby observation wells, measured spring pool altitudes, and the distance between observation wells and the spring pool were the parameters used to match measured spring flows. Measured spring flows at six Upper Floridan aquifer springs in central Florida were used to assess the reliability of these methods to predict spring flows. Hydraulically based methods involved the application of the Theis, Hantush-Jacob, and Darcy-Weisbach equations, whereas the statistically based methods were the multiple linear regressions and the technology of artificial neural networks (ANNs). Root mean square errors between measured and predicted spring flows using the Darcy-Weisbach method ranged between 5% and 15% of the measured flows, lower than the 7% to 27% range for the Theis or Hantush-Jacob methods. Flows at all springs were estimated to be turbulent based on the Reynolds number derived from the Darcy-Weisbach equation for conduit flow. The multiple linear regression and the Darcy-Weisbach methods had similar spring flow prediction capabilities. The ANNs provided the lowest residuals between measured and predicted spring flows, ranging from 1.6% to 5.3% of the measured flows. The model prediction efficiency criteria also indicated that the ANNs were the most accurate method predicting spring flows in a karst aquifer. ?? 2008 National Ground Water Association.
Additional publication details
Analysis of methods to estimate spring flows in a karst aquifer