A computer program for predicting recharge with a master recession curve

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5172




Water-table fluctuations occur in unconfined aquifers owing to ground-water recharge following precipitation and infiltration, and ground-water discharge to streams between storm events. Ground-water recharge can be estimated from well hydrograph data using the water-table fluctuation (WTF) principle, which states that recharge is equal to the product of the water-table rise and the specific yield of the subsurface porous medium. The water-table rise, however, must be expressed relative to the water level that would have occurred in the absence of recharge. This requires a means for estimating the recession pattern of the water-table at the site. For a given site there is often a characteristic relation between the water-table elevation and the water-table decline rate following a recharge event. A computer program was written which extracts the relation between decline rate and water-table elevation from well hydrograph data and uses it to construct a master recession curve (MRC). The MRC is a characteristic water-table recession hydrograph, representing the average behavior for a declining water-table at that site. The program then calculates recharge using the WTF method by comparing the measured well hydrograph with the hydrograph predicted by the MRC and multiplying the difference at each time step by the specific yield. This approach can be used to estimate recharge in a continuous fashion from long-term well records. Presented here is a description of the code including the WTF theory and instructions for running it to estimate recharge with continuous well hydrograph data.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
A computer program for predicting recharge with a master recession curve
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Online only
Year Published:
10 p.
Online Only (Y/N):