Irrigation Science

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 35–47 | Cite as

Integration of HYDRUS-1D and MODFLOW for evaluating the dynamics of salts and nitrogen in groundwater under long-term reclaimed water irrigation

  • Sidan Lyu
  • Weiping ChenEmail author
  • Xuefa Wen
  • Andrew C. Chang
Original Paper


Reclaimed water has been extensively used as an alternative resource for irrigation, but can affect groundwater quality due to salt and nitrogen leaching. We conducted field investigations of a shallow groundwater monitoring well at the Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, China, and irrigated sample sites of turf grass with reclaimed water for 8 years. The HYDRUS-1D and MODFLOW models were integrated to study the transport and distribution of electrical conductivity (ECgw) and nitrate–N (N–NO3) in the shallow groundwater under long-term reclaimed water irrigation. Model calibration and validation showed that the integrated model could simulate the fates of ECgw and N–NO3 in the shallow groundwater. Field experiments and the model simulation showed that reclaimed water irrigation can increase salinity and N–NO3 concentration in shallow groundwater and predicted, assuming the continuation of current irrigation practices, that the annual average ECgw and N–NO3 would reach a steady level of 0.72 dS m−1 and 2.18 mg L−1, respectively. Because ECgw increased with increasing irrigation water salinity and amount, there is a risk of increased salinity in the shallow groundwater under long-term reclaimed water irrigation. Under all simulation scenarios, annual average N–NO3 concentrations in the shallow groundwater at an equilibrium state did not exceed the class II groundwater quality standard (2–5 mg L−1). After proper calibration and validation, the integration of HYDRUS-1D and MODFLOW models offers an effective tool for analyzing irrigation management of low-quality water in water-scarce regions.



We thank the National Natural Science Foundation of China (#41571130043) for its support.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sidan Lyu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Weiping Chen
    • 2
    Email author
  • Xuefa Wen
    • 1
  • Andrew C. Chang
    • 3
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental SciencesChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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