Aquifers in coastal areas of Puerto Rico commonly contain limited quantities of freshwater that occur as a thin layer at the surface of the water table. Many wells have been abandoned because well screens were inadvertently placed in saltwater parts of the aquifer.
A scavenger/production well couple that can be installed in an abandoned well, screened in both freshwater and saltwater parts of the aquifer, provides an effective method for extracting freshwater from the well. Withdrawal of a sufficient quantity of water having low chloride concentrations, by use of a well couple, depends on the upward movement of saltwater within the aquifer when the well is pumped. Upward movement of saltwater depends on the relative concentrations of chloride in the borehole and on the distribution of horizontal and vertical hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer.
For any well screened in an aquifer that contains both freshwater and saltwater, a family of curves can be constructed to represent all combinations of pumping rates and corresponding chloride loads when the scavenger well and the production well are being pumped simultaneously. The curves permit estimates of optimal withdrawals of freshwater based on the desired pumping rates and the levels of chloride concentration required for each well.