Water Resources Management

, Volume 29, Issue 14, pp 5171–5184 | Cite as

Laboratory Study of Low-Flow Rates on Clogging Processes for Application to Small-Diameter Injection Wells

  • Angela R. Thompson
  • R. L. Stotler
  • G. L. Macpherson
  • G. Liu


A new concept in aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) aims to lower costs by using gravity-induced infiltration and small diameter wells installed with direct-push technology. Such systems will have significantly lower injection rates than traditional ASR. Clogging is a major concern for ASR systems; however, previous investigations of injection well clogging assumed a high injection rate. To address this bias, this study investigates the potential for clogging in low-flow (<0.38 m3/min) ASR injection wells. The effects of low-flow rate injection on hydraulic conductivity and geochemistry were examined using laboratory columns packed with sand and gravel taken from an experimental low-flow ASR site. Changes in hydraulic conductivity and geochemistry were monitored over 17 days using two types of source water (treated surface water and native groundwater) at three different flow rates (Darcy velocities 1 m/d, 3 m/d, 5 m/d). The hydraulic conductivity of the lowest flow rate columns decreased below initial levels by at least one order of magnitude during the experiment. Observations of biofilm in effluent tubing suggest bacterial clogging reduced the hydraulic conductivity in medium and low flow treated surface water columns, but bacterial abundance was not quantified in this study. Clay dispersion was estimated to be an important process, partially reversing the bacterial clogging. Further understanding of clogging factors at low flow rates will aid in the selection of the most beneficial clogging prediction tests and pretreatment and redevelopment methods for low-flow ASR systems.


Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) Direct-push Low-flow Column experiments Clogging clay dispersion 



Funding to this project was provided by: NIWR/USGS National Competitive Grant Program (Project Number 2011KS113G), Geological Society of America Student Research Grant, Kansas Geological Foundation, University of Kansas Department of Geology and Frederick T. Holden Fund. Edward Reboulet and Steve Knobbe at the Kansas Geological Survey assisted with core sampling in the field. Mr. Lyle Schardt provided access to the stock well, and the City of Lawrence provided access to the KAW Water Treatment Facility for treated water collection. Dr. Masato Ueshima assisted with cation analysis. Dr. Jennifer Roberts reviewed and provided comments to an early draft of this manuscript. We are also grateful for comments from two anonymous reviewers and the WARM editorial team.

Supplementary material

11269_2015_1111_MOESM1_ESM.doc (115 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 115 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela R. Thompson
    • 1
    • 2
  • R. L. Stotler
    • 1
  • G. L. Macpherson
    • 1
  • G. Liu
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Kansas Department of Health and EnvironmentTopekaUSA
  3. 3.Kansas Geological SurveyLawrenceUSA

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