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Groundwater and surface-water interactions and impacts of human activities in the Hailiutu catchment, northwest China

Yang, Zhi, Zhou, Yangxiao, Wenninger, Jochen, Uhlenbrook, Stefan, Wang, Xusheng, Wan, Li
Hydrogeology journal 2017 v.25 no.5 pp. 1341-1355
chemical analysis, ecosystems, equations, groundwater, groundwater extraction, humans, hydrograph, hydrologic models, river water, rivers, seepage, stream flow, surface water, temporal variation, water management, watersheds, China
The interactions between groundwater and surface water have been significantly affected by human activities in the semi-arid Hailiutu catchment, northwest China. Several methods were used to investigate the spatial and temporal interactions between groundwater and surface water. Isotopic and chemical analyses of water samples determined that groundwater discharges to the Hailiutu River, and mass balance equations were employed to estimate groundwater seepage rates along the river using chemical profiles. The hydrograph separation method was used to estimate temporal variations of groundwater discharges to the river. A numerical groundwater model was constructed to simulate groundwater discharges along the river and to analyze effects of water use in the catchment. The simulated seepage rates along the river compare reasonably well with the seepage estimates derived from a chemical profile in 2012. The impacts of human activities (river-water diversion and groundwater abstraction) on the river discharge were analyzed by calculating the differences between the simulated natural groundwater discharge and the measured river discharge. Water use associated with the Hailiutu River increased from 1986 to 1991, reached its highest level from 1992 to 2000, and decreased from 2001 onwards. The reduction of river discharge might have negative impacts on the riparian ecosystem and the water availability for downstream users. The interactions between groundwater and surface water as well as the consequences of human activities should be taken into account when implementing sustainable water resources management in the Hailiutu catchment.