WRIR 01-4158

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Renken, R.A., Patterson, R.D., Orzol, L.L., and Dixon, Joann, 2001, Approach for Delineation of Contributing Areas and Zones of Transport to Selected Public-Supply Wells Using a Regional Ground-Water Flow Model, Palm Beach County, Florida: Water-Resources Investigations Report 01-4158, 56 p., plus CD.


Rapid urban development and population growth in Palm Beach County, Florida, have been accompanied with the need for additional freshwater withdrawals from the surficial aquifer system. To maintain water quality, County officials protect capture areas and determine zones of transport of municipal supply wells. A multistep process was used to help automate the delineation of wellhead protection areas.

A modular ground-water flow model (MODFLOW) Telescopic Mesh Refinement program (MODTMR) was used to construct an embedded flow model and combined with particle tracking to delineate zones of transport to supply wells; model output was coupled with a geographic information system. An embedded flow MODFLOW model was constructed using input and output file data from a preexisting three-dimensional, calibrated model of the surficial aquifer system. Three graphical user interfaces for use with the geographic information software, ArcView, were developed to enhance the telescopic mesh refinement process. These interfaces include AvMODTMR for use with MODTMR; AvHDRD to build MODFLOW river and drain input files from dynamically segmented linear (canals) data sets; and AvWELL Refiner, an interface designed to examine and convert well coverage spatial data layers to a MODFLOW Well package input file. MODPATH (the U.S. Geological Survey particle-tracking postprocessing program) and MODTOOLS (the set of U.S. Geological Survey computer programs to translate MODFLOW and MODPATH output to a geographic information system) were used to map zones of transport.

A steady-state, five-layer model of the Boca Raton area was created using the telescopic mesh refinement process and calibrated to average conditions during January 1989 to June 1990. A sensitivity analysis of various model parameters indicates that the model is most sensitive to changes in recharge rates, hydraulic conductivity for layer 1, and leakance for layers 3 and 4 (Biscayne aquifer).

Recharge (58 percent); river (canal) leakance (29 percent); and inflow through the northern, western, and southern prescribed flux model boundaries (10 percent) represent the major inflow components. Principal outflow components in the Boca Raton well field area include well discharge (56 percent), river (canal) leakance (27 percent), and water that discharges along the coast (10 percent).

A particle-tracking analysis using MODPATH was conducted to better understand well-field ground-water flow patterns and time of travel. MODTOOLS was used to construct zones-of-transport spatial data for municipal supply wells. Porosity estimates were uniformly increased to study the effect of porosity on zones of transport. Where porosity was increased, the size of the zones of transport were shown to decrease.