This report presents a computer model of ground-water flow in the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie (SVRP) aquifer in Spokane County, Washington, and Bonner and Kootenai Counties, Idaho. The aquifer is the sole source of drinking water for more than 500,000 residents in the area. In response to the concerns about the impacts of increased ground-water withdrawals resulting from recent and projected urban growth, a comprehensive study was initiated by the Idaho Department of Water Resources, the Washington Department of Ecology, and the U.S. Geological Survey to improve the understanding of ground-water flow in the aquifer and of the interaction between ground water and surface water. The ground-water flow model presented in this report is one component of this comprehensive study. The primary purpose of the model is to serve as a tool for analyzing aquifer inflows and outflows, simulating the effects of future changes in ground-water withdrawals from the aquifer, and evaluating aquifer management strategies. The scale of the model and the level of detail are intended for analysis of aquifer-wide water-supply issues.
The SVRP aquifer model was developed by the Modeling Team formed within the comprehensive study. The Modeling Team consisted of staff and personnel working under contract with the Idaho Department of Water Resources, personnel working under contract with the Washington Department of Ecology, and staff of the U.S. Geological Survey. To arrive at a final model that has the endorsement of all team members, decisions on modeling approach, methodology, assumptions, and interpretations were reached by consensus.
The ground-water flow model MODFLOW-2000 was used to simulate ground-water flow in the SVPR aquifer. The finite-difference model grid consists of 172 rows, 256 columns, and 3 layers. Ground-water flow was simulated from September 1990 through September 2005 using 181 stress periods of 1 month each. The areal extent of the model encompasses an area of approximately 326 square miles. For the most part, the model extent coincides with the 2005 revised extent of the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Prairie aquifer as defined in a previous report. However, the model excludes Spirit and Hoodoo Valleys because of uncertainties about the ground-water flow directions in those valleys and the degree of hydraulic connection between the valleys and northern Rathdrum Prairie. The SVRP aquifer is considered to be a single hydrogeologic unit except in Hillyard Trough and the Little Spokane River Arm. In those areas, a continuous clay layer divides the aquifer into an upper, unconfined unit and a lower, confined unit.
The model includes all known components of inflows to and outflows from the aquifer. Inflows to the SVRP aquifer include (1) recharge from precipitation, (2) inflows from tributary basins and adjacent uplands, (3) subsurface seepage and surface overflows from lakes that border the aquifer, (4) flow from losing segments of the Spokane River to the aquifer, (5) return percolation from irrigation, and (6) effluent from septic systems. Outflows from the SVRP aquifer include (1) ground-water withdrawals from wells, (2) flow from the aquifer to gaining segments of the Spokane River, (3) aquifer discharge to the Little Spokane River, and (4) subsurface outflow from the lower unit at the western limit of the model area near Long Lake. These inflow and outflow components are represented in the model by using MODFLOW-2000 packages.
The parameter-estimation program PEST was used to calibrate the SVRP aquifer model. PEST implements a nonlinear least-squares regression method to estimate model parameters so that the differences between measured and simulated quantities are minimized with respect to an optimal criterion. Calibration data include 1,573 measurements of water levels and 313 measurements of streamflow gains and losses along segments of the Spokane and Little Spokane Rivers.
Model parameters estimated during calib