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Frontiers of Earth Science

Front. Earth Sci.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (2) : 371-384
Development of a groundwater flow and reactive solute transport model in the Yongding River alluvial fan, China
Haizhu HU1,2, Xiaomin MAO2(), Qing YANG3
1. Inner Mongolia River and Lake Ecology Laboratory, School of Ecology and Environment, Inner Mongolia University, Hohhot 010021, China
2. Center for Agricultural Water Research in China, College of Water Resources & Civil Engineering, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
3. Beijing Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, Beijing 100195, China
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The Yongding River in the western suburbs of Beijing has been recharged with reclaimed water since 2010 for the purpose of ecological restoration. Where the reclaimed water is not well treated, it poses a danger to the aquifer underneath the river. To provide a reliable tool which could be used in future research to quantify the influence of reclaimed water in the Yongding River on the local groundwater environment, a transient groundwater flow and reactive solute transport model was developed using FEFLOWTM in the middle-upper part of the Yongding River Alluvium Fan. The numerical model was calibrated against the observed groundwater levels and the concentrations of typical solutes from June 2009 to May 2010 and validated from June 2010 to December 2010. The average RMSE and R2 of groundwater level at four observation wells are 0.48 m and 0.61, respectively. The reasonable agreement between observed and simulated results demonstrates that the developed model is reliable and capable of predicting the behavior of groundwater flow and typical contaminant transport with reactions. Water budget analysis indicates that the water storage in this aquifer had decreased by 43.76×106 m3 from June 2009 to December 2010. The concentration distributions of typical solutes suggest that the middle and southern parts of the unconfined aquifer have been polluted by previous discharge of industrial and domestic sewage. The results underscore the necessity of predicting the groundwater response to reclaimed water being discharged into the Yongding River. The study established a coupled groundwater flow and reactive solute transport model in the middle-upper part of the Yongding River Alluvium Fan, one of the drinking water supply sites in Beijing city. The model would be used for risk assessment when reclaimed water was recharged into Yongding River.

Keywords Yongding River alluvium fan      groundwater flow      reactive solute transport      FEFLOW      ecological restoration     
Corresponding Authors: Xiaomin MAO   
Just Accepted Date: 12 October 2018   Online First Date: 03 December 2018    Issue Date: 16 May 2019
 Cite this article:   
Haizhu HU,Xiaomin MAO,Qing YANG. Development of a groundwater flow and reactive solute transport model in the Yongding River alluvial fan, China[J]. Front. Earth Sci., 2019, 13(2): 371-384.
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Fig.1  Yongding River restoration project with (a) upstream view from the right side of the Mencheng Lake of the Yongding River during construction and (b) downstream view after construction (photo taken in April 2011).
Fig.2  Location of the study site. The names of pumping well groups and landfill sites were simplified as capital letters in the names, with SJS standing for Shijingshan, FT for Fengtai, YHZ for Yonghezhuang, BTT for Beitiantang, and XHM for Xihongmen.
Fig.3  Hydrogeological conditions of the study area with (a) hydrogeological map and groundwater level contour in June 2009 in the study area; (b) hydrogeological cross-section of Beijing Plain from northwest to southeast. The upper-middle part of YRAF is shown in the dashed frame. I. single aquifer layer consists of sand and gravel, II. 2?3 layers of pebbles and gravels, III. multiple gravels and few sand layers, IV. multiple sand layers and few gravel layers, V. multiple layers of sand. ① unconfined aquifers and ②③ confined aquifers. (Fig. 3(b) is modified after Hao et al. (2014)).
Fig.4  Partitions and corresponding values in each partition for (a) the recharge coefficient of rainfall α, (b) the hydraulic conductivity (Kx=Ky=10Kz), and (c) specific yield (µ) of the unconfined aquifer.
Fig.5  Initial groundwater level (a), concentrations of Cl (b), NO3 (c), and NH4+ (d) of the study area in June 2009.
Fig.6  Spatial distribution of the unconfined aquifer in the study area with (a) ground surface elevation, (b) aquifer bottom elevation, and (c) 3D unconfined aquifer configuration.
Fig.7  Comparison between the observed and simulated monthly averaged groundwater levels during calibration and validation periods in the study area with (a) four observation wells, (b) observation well No. 1, (c) No. 2, (d) No. 3, and (e) No. 4. The red line is the dividing line between calibration (June 2009?June 2010) and validation (July 2010?December 2010).
Observation Wells Calibration & validation
No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 Mean
RMSE/m 0.46 0.66 0.13 0.66 0.48
R2 0.59 0.63 0.48 0.72 0.61
Tab.1  Model fitting criteria of the selected observation wells during calibration and validation periods
Fig.8  Comparison between observed and simulated distributions of groundwater levels in December 2010 (a), Cl concentration (b), and NO3 concentration (c) in October 2010 of the study area.
Item Element of water balance Volume/(108 m3·yr1)
In Precipitation 1.0273
Lateral inflow 0.9812
Seepage of pipelines+artificial recharge 0.7281
Irrigation 0.3308
Leakage recharge 0.3000
Total in 3.3674
Out Extraction 3.3042
Lateral outflow 0.5008
Total out 3.8050
Storage ?0.4376
Tab.2  Groundwater budgets during calibration and validation
Fig.9  Concentrations of typical contaminant indicators in the groundwater of YRAF from 1970s until 2010s with (a) Cl, (b) Total Hardness (TH), (c) NO3-N and TH, and (d) linear correlation between NO3-N and TH concentration in No. 3 and No. 4 pumping well groups (data from Lin (2004) and Lin et al. (2011)).
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