Case study: Aquifer recharge, Paso del Norte, Texas

Description of the application

In 2006 intense, localized storms with up to 30 inches of rainfall were reported in some parts of the Paso del Norte region, consisting of El Paso City and County, Texas, southern New Mexico in the United States and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Local and widespread flood events continued over a period of more than a month causing extensive and costly damage to infrastructure, homes, businesses and other property. At the same time, aftermath of 2006 flood events help us realize that they also create opportunity for recharge of the stressed regional aquifers in arid regions through enhanced infiltration of streams, arroyos, and flood detention ponds. In this paper, the authors evaluated potential impacts of local flood on the groundwater availability of regional aquifers in the region. Three recharge scenarios, namely 30%, 50% and 100% of recharge capacity were simulated using a groundwater flow model (MODFLOW) to gain a better understanding of surface water and groundwater interaction during floods. Preliminary results showed that recharge into the shallow aquifer were enhanced during the flood. Potential recharges using detention ponds or injection wells and their role in systematic management of limited regional water resources in arid regions were also assessed. The results showed that not all the water stored into the aquifer will increase groundwater availability due to robust interaction of surface water and groundwater. Well injection is more effective in increase groundwater availability than detention ponds.

Lessons learned

Insights gained from this study will help lay the groundwork for conjunctive management of surface water and groundwater as well as regional water planning, such as enhancing recharge through stream beds and detention ponds during floods or wet periods.

Implementation cost

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Last modified: Sept. 12, 2016, 7:04 a.m.



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