A wetland was constructed in the Skunk Creek flood plain near Lyons in southeast South Dakota to mitigate for wetland areas that were filled during construction of a municipal golf course for the city of Sioux Falls. A water-rights permit was obtained to allow the city to pump water from Skunk Creek into the wetland during times when the wetland would be dry. The amount of water seeping through the wetland and recharging the underlying Skunk Creek aquifer was not known. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the city of Sioux Falls, conducted a study during 1997-2000 to evaluate recharge to the Skunk Creek aquifer from the constructed wetland.
Three methods were used to estimate recharge from the wetland to the aquifer: (1) analysis of the rate of water-level decline during periods of no inflow; (2) flow-net analysis; and (3) analysis of the hydrologic budget. The hydrologic budget also was used to evaluate the efficiency of recharge from the wetland to the aquifer. Recharge rates estimated by analysis of shut-off events ranged from 0.21 to 0.82 foot per day, but these estimates may be influenced by possible errors in volume calculations. Recharge rates determined by flow-net analysis were calculated using selected values of hydraulic conductivity and ranged from 566,000 gallons per day using a hydraulic conductivity of 0.5 foot per day to 1,684,000 gallons per day using a hydraulic conductivity of 1.0 foot per day. Recharge rates from the hydrologic budget varied from 0.74 to 0.85 foot per day, and averaged 0.79 foot per day.
The amount of water lost to evapotranspiration at the study wetland is very small compared to the amount of water seeping from the wetland into the aquifer. Based on the hydrologic budget, the average recharge efficiency was estimated as 97.9 percent, which indicates that recharging the Skunk Creek aquifer by pumping water into the study wetland is highly efficient.
Because the Skunk Creek aquifer is composed of sand and gravel, the 'recharge mound' is less distinct than might be found in an aquifer composed of finer materials. However, water levels recorded from piezometers in and around the wetland do show a higher water table than periods when the wetland was dry. The largest increases in water level occur between the wetland channel and Skunk Creek. The results of this study demonstrate that artificially recharged wetlands can be useful in recharging underlying aquifers and increasing water levels in these aquifers.