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Abstract

The predictions from a numerical time-variant distributed groundwater model are used to assess the spatial and temporal impacts of groundwater abstraction for an unconfined and layered, moderate diffusivity aquifer; the West Midlands–Worfe Permo-Triassic Sandstone in the UK. These impacts have been determined by comparing a recent actual baseline predictive simulation with simulations where groundwater abstractions are switched off, including a ‘naturalized’ simulation. By reference to the historic simulation, the predictive model results are compared against observed groundwater levels. The predictive simulations demonstrate that observed groundwater levels could be an indicator of groundwater abstraction impacts on surface water flows where widespread stream disconnection has occurred due to high rates of abstraction. This relationship also depends on the aquifer hydraulic characteristics, the interaction between groundwater levels and the surface drainage network and other artificial flow influences. Abstraction impacts on groundwater levels are large for the West Midlands–Worfe aquifer, but can be obscured by the climatic recharge signal in observed groundwater level records. This is a consequence of the moderate diffusivity and the main groundwater abstraction development preceding systematic monitoring. The groundwater model can be used to identify which observation boreholes have negligible abstraction impacts; this may be valuable for identifying groundwater level records that are useful for climate change analysis.

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