Simulation of ground-water flow in the Saginaw Aquifer, Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties, Michigan

Water Supply Paper 2480

Prepared in cooperation with the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission
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A numerical model was developed to simulate ground-water flow in the Tri-County region, which consists of Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham Counties, Michigan. This region includes a nine-township area surrounding Lansing, Michigan. The model simulates the regional response of the Saginaw aquifer to major groundwater withdrawals associated with public-supply wells. The Saginaw aquifer, which is in the Grand River and Saginaw Formations of Pennsylvanian age, is the primary source of ground water for Tri-County residents. The Saginaw aquifer is overlain by glacial deposits, which also are important ground-water sources in some locations.

Flow in the Saginaw aquifer and the glacial deposits is simulated by discretizing the flow system into model cells arranged in two layers. Each cell, which corresponds to a land area of 0.0625 square mile, represents the locally averaged properties of the system. The spatial variation of hydraulic properties controlling ground-water flow was estimated by geostatistical analysis of 4,947 well logs. Parameter estimation, a form of nonlinear regression, was used to calibrate the flow model.

Results of steady-state ground-water-flow simulations show close agreement between water flowing into and out of the model area for 1992 pumping conditions; standard error of the difference between simulated and measured heads is 14.7 feet. Simulation results for three alternative pumping scenarios for the year 2020 show that the glacial aquifer could be dewatered in places if hypothetical increases in pumping are not distributed throughout the Tri-County region.

Contributing areas to public-supply wells in the nine-township area were delineated by a particle-tracking analysis. These areas cover about 121 square miles. Contributing areas for particles having travel times of 40 years or less cover about 42 square miles. Results of tritium sampling support results of model simulations to delineate contributing areas.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Simulation of ground-water flow in the Saginaw Aquifer, Clinton, Eaton, and Ingham counties, Michigan
Series title:
Water Supply Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Government Printing Office
Publisher location:
Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s):
Michigan Water Science Center
v, 49 p.
United States
Clinton County, Eaton County, Ingham County