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Modeling Water Resources and River-Aquifer Interaction in the Júcar River Basin, Spain


The paper presents how to solve some practical problems of water planning in a medium/large river basin, such as: the water resources assessment and its spatial-temporal variability over the long-short term, the impact of human activities on the water cycle, due to groundwater pumping and water returns into aquifers, the river-aquifer interactions and the aquifer depletion. It is based on the use of a new monthly conceptual distributed water balance model -PATRICAL- that includes the surface water (SW), groundwater (GW) behavior and the river-aquifer interaction. The model is applied to the Júcar River Basin District (RBD) in Spain (43,000 km2), with more than 250 aquifers, including catchments with humid climates (Júcar RBD northern), semiarid and arid catchments (southern). The model has a small number of parameters and obtains a satisfactory performance in SW and GW behavior. It has been calibrated/validated using monthly streamflows and two additional elements not generally used in models for large river basins, GW levels and river-aquifer interactions. In the hydrological time series of the Júcar RBD headers a statistical change point in the year 1979/80 is detected. It is due to changes in precipitation patterns and represents a 40 % of reduction in streamflows in relation with the previous period. The impact of GW pumping in all aquifers is determined, the ‘Mancha Oriental’ aquifer produces a significant reduction in streamflows of the Júcar river –around 200–250 hm3/year. The GW level in the ‘Villena-Benejama’ aquifer -Vinalopo Valley- has declined more than 200 m in last 30 years.

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Correspondence to Miguel A. Pérez-Martín.

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Pérez-Martín, M.A., Estrela, T., Andreu, J. et al. Modeling Water Resources and River-Aquifer Interaction in the Júcar River Basin, Spain. Water Resour Manage 28, 4337–4358 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11269-014-0755-3

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  • Water balance model
  • Large river basin
  • Water resources assessment
  • River-aquifer interaction
  • Hydrological changes
  • Aquifer depletion