Date of Award
Master of Science
The Saline Valley Conservancy District (SVCD) formed in 1980 to provide groundwater to communities in Saline and Gallatin, Counties, Illinois. Sulfate contamination from a nearby coal mine threatens the SVCD’s current well field. Three of the wells are reaching the end of their service and have elevated levels of sulfate. This study investigated multiple well configurations on three different parcels of land to find possible new well locations that do not recharge water directly from the mine site over a 50-year period. A steady-state finite difference groundwater flow model was created using Graphic Groundwater GIS (Krienert and Esling, 2016), a pre and post-processor for MODFLOW (Harbaugh, 2005) and MODPATH (Pollock, 2012). The calibration and sensitivity analysis followed methods from Esling et al. (2008). Hydraulic heads were calibrated to the land surface and a systematic sensitivity analysis varied recharge, hydraulic conductivity, and drain and river conductance to produce composite capture zones. Well locations must also meet SVCD requirements that would minimize distance from current water lines and consider properties they already owned. New wells also needed to be located in areas where the aquifer exceeds 25 m thick and be separated by 305 meters to minimize drawdown. This study also considered the effects of irrigation on the aquifer. Varying recharge, hydraulic conductivity and conductance within reasonable ranges created six capture zones for the proposed wells, each with different geometries. The capture zones were superimposed onto a map to make a composite capture zone which should contain the actual capture zone for the wells. Varying conductance caused subtle changes in capture zone geometry. Low values of conductance caused particle tracks to elongate. Irrigation wells and some proposed well locations caused substantial dewatering in one area of the aquifer. The study discovered several well configurations on each of the parcels that do not source water from the mine site over 50 years.
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