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Simulation of ground-water flow in the Cedar River alluvium, northwest Black Hawk County and southwest Bremer County, Iowa

Water-Resources Investigations Report 2003-4080

Prepared in cooperation with Black Hawk County, Iowa
By:
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Abstract

Flooding and high ground-water levels after large or frequent rainstorms have occurred in an area of about 30 square miles along the eastern bank of the Cedar River from Cedar Falls in northwest Black Hawk County to Janesville in southwest Bremer County, Iowa. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Black Hawk County, conducted a hydrologic study of the Cedar River alluvium in the northwest Black Hawk and southwest Bremer Counties, to improve understanding of the ground-water flow system and evaluate the effects of hypothetical variations in recharge and discharge conditions.

A steady-state ground-water flow model was constructed for the area using November 2001 hydrologic conditions. The model was discretized into an 83-row by 47-column grid of cells measuring approximately 500 feet by 500 feet. Two model layers, one for the alluvium and one for the underlying bedrock units, were used to represent flow in the area.

Precipitation during 2001 was similar to historical normals. Precipitation during 1999, especially during the summer when flooding occurred, was well above the historical normals. Borings in the unconsolidated deposits in the study area confirmed the presence of a bedrock valley dipping to the south in the central part of the study area. Water-level measurements in 2001 indicate that ground-water flow in much of the alluvial aquifer parallels the direction of flow in the Cedar River toward the south rather than following shorter flow paths to the west toward the Cedar River.

Under steady-state conditions and 2001 pumpage, primary sources of inflow to the ground-water flow system are the Cedar River (65.5 percent), recharge through infiltration of precipitation and upland runoff (31.4 percent), and subsurface flow across the lateral boundaries (3.1 percent). The primary components of outflow from the ground-water flow system are intermittent streams (56.0 percent) and the Cedar River (43.7 percent).

Two hypothetical scenarios were used to assess the potential effects of higher river levels and increased recharge compared to the steadystate conditions. For one scenario, river levels were set to bankfull conditions, and a recharge of 1.2 times the steady-state rate was applied. This simulation was used to evaluate the effects of wet conditions. This scenario led to increased water levels, in general, and large areas of shallow (0 to 10 feet) depths to water along the eastern part of the model area near Highway 218. For the second scenario, conditions were the same as for the first scenario, but streambed conductance of intermittent streams modeled as drains was increased to 10 times the steady-state value to simulate increased flow of water from the shallow groundwater flow system. The area with depth to water of 0 to 10 feet along the eastern part of the model area was substantially smaller than that of the first scenario.

In general, once high ground-water levels occur, either because of high Cedar River water Abstract levels or above normal local precipitation or both, ground-water in the central part of the study area along Highway 218 flows toward the south rather than following shorter flow paths to the Cedar River. Intermittent streams in the study area discharge substantial amounts of water from the ground-water flow system.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Simulation of ground-water flow in the Cedar River alluvium, northwest Black Hawk County and southwest Bremer County, Iowa
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
2003-4080
Year Published:
2003
Language:
English
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Iowa Water Science Center
Description:
iv, 42 p.; col. ill., col. maps: 28 cm.
Country:
United States
State:
Iowa
County:
Black Hawk, Bremer
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N