, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 807-817

Local and Regional Water Flow Quantification in Groundwater-dependent Wetlands

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Abstract

Runoff, groundwater recharge and discharge, and surface water–groundwater interaction are the main driving forces of wetlands. The quantification of such flows is crucial information in the restoration and management of groundwater-dependent wetlands. The objective of this work is to quantify groundwater inflow at the level of the hydrogeological basin, which discharges into the wetland in the coastal plain of the Río de la Plata (Argentina). It also aims at evaluating whether such inflow is affected by groundwater exploitation in the high plain adjacent to the wetland. On the basis of water level data, a model of hydrological behaviour was developed and then a numerical simulation to quantify groundwater inflow was carried out. The evolution of groundwater levels was analyzed considering three situations: one of them in natural conditions and two others under different groundwater exploitation conditions. In the first case, the inflow originates in the recharge from precipitation, in the local groundwater discharge from the adjacent high plain and in the regional one from the semi-confined aquifer. The exploitation of the semi-confined aquifer in the high plain causes the formation of a cone of depression which modifies the hydrodynamics of the wetland in the area adjacent to the extraction wells. The quantification of flows shows that groundwater exploitation in areas of the basin located out of the wetland may cause the volume of water flowing into the wetland through groundwater discharge to decrease by approximately 25 %. The importance of considering discharge wetlands as part of regional hydrogeological systems should be highlighted, mainly as regards the management of natural resources.