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Water 2019, 11(1), 110; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11010110

Application of an Integrated SWAT–MODFLOW Model to Evaluate Potential Impacts of Climate Change and Water Withdrawals on Groundwater–Surface Water Interactions in West-Central Alberta

1
Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E3, Canada
2
Alberta Geological Survey, Alberta Energy Regulator, Edmonton, AB, T6B 2X3, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 December 2018 / Revised: 24 December 2018 / Accepted: 3 January 2019 / Published: 10 January 2019
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Abstract

It has become imperative that surface and groundwater resources be managed as a holistic system. This study applies a coupled groundwater–surface water (GW–SW) model, SWAT–MODFLOW, to study the hydrogeological conditions and the potential impacts of climate change and groundwater withdrawals on GW–SW interactions at a regional scale in western Canada. Model components were calibrated and validated using monthly river flow and hydraulic head data for the 1986–2007 period. Downscaled climate projections from five General Circulation Models (GCMs), under the RCP 8.5, for the 2010–2034 period, were incorporated into the calibrated model. The results demonstrated that GW–SW exchange in the upstream areas had the most pronounced fluctuation between the wet and dry months under historical conditions. While climate change was revealed to have a negligible impact in the GW–SW exchange pattern for the 2010–2034 period, the addition of pumping 21 wells at a rate of 4680 m3/d per well to support hypothetical high-volume water use by the energy sector significantly impacted the exchange pattern. The results showed that the total average discharge into the rivers was only slightly reduced from 1294 m3/d to 1174 m3/d; however, localized flowrate differences varied from under 5 m3/d to over 3000 m3/d in 320 of the 405 river cells. The combined potential impact is that intensive groundwater use may have more immediate effects on river flow than those of climate change, which has important implications for water resources management and for energy supply in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrogeology; modelling; calibration; uncertainty analysis; groundwater pumping; water resources management hydrogeology; modelling; calibration; uncertainty analysis; groundwater pumping; water resources management
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Chunn, D.; Faramarzi, M.; Smerdon, B.; Alessi, D.S. Application of an Integrated SWAT–MODFLOW Model to Evaluate Potential Impacts of Climate Change and Water Withdrawals on Groundwater–Surface Water Interactions in West-Central Alberta. Water 2019, 11, 110.

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