Groundwater Flow and Capture Zone Analysis of the Central Passaic River Basin, New Jersey

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Delineating capture zones of pumping wells is an important part of safe drinking water and well protection programs. Capture zones or contributing areas of a groundwater extraction well are the parts of the aquifer recharge areas from which the wells draw their water. Their extent and location depend on the hydrogeologic conditions such as groundwater recharge, pumping scenario and the aquifer properties such as hydraulic conductivity, porosity, heterogeneity of the medium and hydraulic gradient. Different methods of delineation can be used depending on the complexity of the hydrogeologic conditions. In this study, a 3-dimensional transient numerical MODFLOW model was developed for the Central Passaic River Basin (CPRB), and used with a MODPATH particle tracking code to determine 3-dimensional transient capture zones. Analytically calculated capture zones from previous studies at the site were compared with the new numerically simulated capture zones. The study results revealed that the analytical solution was more conservative, estimating larger capture zones than the numerical models. Of all the parameters that can impact the size, shape and location of a capture zone, the hydraulic conductivity is one of the most critical. Capture zones tend to be smaller in lower hydraulic conductivity areas.



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