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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Groundwater management of a highly dynamic karst by assessing baseflow and quickflow with a rainfall-discharge model (Dardennes springs, SE France)


This paper aims at characterizing the groundwater flow in a highly dynamic karst aquifer using a global modeling approach based on rainfall and spring discharge time series. The Dardennes aquifer (SE France) was studied as it is used for drinking water supply and it also produces karst flash floods that increase the flood hazard downstream in urban areas. Three years of data were available, including a normal rainy year, a wet year and a dry year. Modeling was performed with the new platform KarstMod, a rainfalldischarge model with calibration tools. The Dardennes aquifer model was structured with three interconnected reservoirs: Epikarst, Matrix, and Conduit. Using this modeling approach, we were able to determine the groundwater hydrograph separation of the karst spring discharge, at the annual scale and at the event scale (flood). This gives insight into the low flow (Matrix) available for the drinking water demand and the fast flow (Conduit) that generates flash floods. In such a dynamic aquifer, part of the water budget cannot be accounted for by water resources as fast flow is not stored within the aquifer and is not available for the drinking water demand. The results were compared with the current groundwater management to determine whether the withdrawal is sustainable. Depending on whether it is a wet or a dry year, the proportion of slow flow ranges from 27 to 61% of the total discharge, respectively. During floods in high water periods, the proportion of quickflow increases drastically up to more than 90% of the spring discharge. In the case of a 300 mm/d simulated Mediterranean rainfall event, the mean daily peak value may reach 74m3/s. This discharge can be reduced if the aquifer is previously depleted, which increases the storage within the aquifer. Coupling the geological context and the model results opens up future perspectives for the active management of the karst aquifer.

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