07 Mar 2023
 | 07 Mar 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

An ensemble-based approach for pumping optimization in an island aquifer considering parameter, observation and climate uncertainty

Cécile Coulon, Jeremy T. White, Alexandre Pryet, Laura Gatel, and Jean-Michel Lemieux

Abstract. In coastal zones, a major objective of groundwater management is often to determine sustainable pumping rates avoiding well salinization. Understanding how model and climate uncertainties affect optimal management solutions is essential to provide groundwater managers information about salinization risk, and is facilitated by the use of optimization under uncertainty (OUU) methods. However, guidelines are missing for the widespread implementation of OUU in real-world coastal aquifers, and for the incorporation of climate uncertainty into OUU approaches. An ensemble-based OUU approach was developed, considering parameter, observation and climate uncertainty, and was implemented in a real-world island aquifer in the Magdalen Islands (Quebec, Canada). A sharp-interface seawater intrusion model was developed using MODFLOW-SWI2 and a prior parameter ensemble was generated, containing multiple equally plausible realizations. Ensemble-based history matching was conducted using an iterative ensemble smoother and yielded a posterior parameter ensemble conveying both parameter and observation uncertainty. 2050 sea level and recharge ensembles were generated and incorporated to generate a predictive parameter ensemble conveying parameter, observation and climate uncertainty. Multi-objective OUU was then conducted, aiming to both maximize pumping rates and minimize probability of well salinization. As a result, the optimal tradeoff between pumping and probability of salinization was quantified, considering parameter, historical observation and future climate uncertainty simultaneously. The multi-objective, ensemble-based OUU led to optimal pumping rates that were very different from a previous deterministic OUU, and close to the current and projected water demand for risk-averse stances. Incorporating climate uncertainty in the OUU was also critical since it reduced the maximum allowable pumping rates for users with a risk-averse stance. The workflow used tools adapted to very high-dimensional, nonlinear models and optimization problems, to facilitate its implementation in a wide range of real-world settings.

Cécile Coulon et al.

Status: open (until 02 May 2023)

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Cécile Coulon et al.

Model code and software

swi2-ensembles Cécile Coulon, Jeremy T. White, Alexandre Pryet, Laura Gatel, and Jean-Michel Lemieux

Cécile Coulon et al.


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Short summary
In coastal areas, groundwater managers require information on the risk of well salinization associated with various pumping scenarios. We developed a modeling approach to identify the optimal tradeoff between groundwater pumping and probability of salinization, considering model parameter and historical observation uncertainty as well as uncertainty in sea level and recharge projections. The workflow can be implemented in a wide range of coastal settings.