Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-632
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-632

  17 Dec 2020

17 Dec 2020

Review status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal HESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

Large-scale sensitivities of groundwater and surface water to groundwater withdrawal

Marc F. P. Bierkens1,2, Edwin H. Sutanudjaja1, and Niko Wanders1 Marc F. P. Bierkens et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 2Unit Soil and Groundwater Systems, Deltares, P.O. Box 85467, 3508 AL Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract. Increasing population, economic growth and changes in diet have dramatically increased the demand for food and water over the last decades. To meet increasing demands, irrigated agriculture has expanded into semi-arid areas with limited precipitation and surface water availability. This has greatly intensified the dependence of irrigated crops on groundwater withdrawal and caused a steady increase of non-renewable groundwater use, i.e. groundwater taken out of aquifer storage that will not be replenished in human time scales. One of the effects of groundwater pumping is the reduction in streamflow through capture of groundwater recharge, with detrimental effects on aquatic ecosystems. The degree to which groundwater withdrawal affects streamflow or groundwater storage depends on the nature of the groundwater-surface water interaction (GWSI). So far, analytical solutions that have been derived to calculate the impact of groundwater on streamflow depletion involve single wells and streams and do not allow the GWSI to shift from connected to disconnected, i.e. from a situation with two-way interaction to one with a one-way interaction between groundwater and surface water. Including this shift and also analyse the effects of many wells, requires numerical groundwater models that are expensive to setup. Here, we introduce a simple conceptual analytical framework that allows to estimate to what extent groundwater withdrawal affects groundwater heads and streamflow. It allows for a shift in GWSI, calculates at which critical withdrawal rate such a shift is expected and when it is likely to occur after withdrawal commences. It also provides estimates of streamflow depletion and which part of the groundwater withdrawal comes out of groundwater storage and which parts from a reduction in streamflow. After a local sensitivity analysis, the framework is used to provide global maps of critical withdrawal rates and timing, the areas where current withdrawal exceeds critical limits, and maps of groundwater depletion and streamflow depletion rates that result from groundwater withdrawal. The resulting global depletion rates are similar to those obtained from global hydrological models and satellites. The analytical framework is particularly useful for performing first-order sensitivity studies and for supporting hydroeconomic models that require simple relationships between groundwater withdrawal rates and the evolution of pumping costs and environmental externalities.

Marc F. P. Bierkens et al.

 
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Status: closed
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Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement

Marc F. P. Bierkens et al.

Marc F. P. Bierkens et al.

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Short summary
We introduce a simple analytical framework that allows to estimate to what extent large-scale groundwater withdrawal affects groundwater levels and streamflow. It also calculates which part of the groundwater withdrawal comes out of groundwater storage and which parts from a reduction in streamflow. A global application of the framework yields depletion estimates that are similar to those obtained from global hydrological models and estimates from satellites.