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Three-dimensional groundwater flow modeling approach for the groundwater management options for the Dakhla oasis, Western Desert, Egypt

Sefelnasr, Ahmed, Gossel, Wolfgang, Wycisk, Peter
Environmental earth sciences 2014 v.72 no.4 pp. 1227-1241
anthropogenic activities, aquifers, drawdown, groundwater, groundwater flow, models, oases, sandstone, water table, wells, Egypt
In Dakhla oasis, Western Desert of Egypt, groundwater is the only resource for all anthropogenic activities. During the last 50 years, the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System (NSAS) has been undergoing serious stress through withdrawing its storage. Plans for expanding the agricultural areas in Dakhla oasis were given by the government. This article is an attempt to investigate the best management option that meets development ambitions and groundwater availability. Based on a calibrated regional three-dimensional groundwater flow model for the NSAS using FEFLOW, a refined (high resolution) local scale model was developed to simulate and predict the impact of applying the actual and planned extractions rates on Dakhla oasis. Five management scenarios were suggested. The application of the actual extraction rate of 1.2 × 10⁶ m³/day for the oasis for the next 90 years resulted in a drawdown of 75 m and a depth to groundwater up to 75 m with an annual change in hydraulic head of 0.57 m. At the end of this simulation, only a few wells at the west of the oasis will still be free flowing. The application of the planned extraction rate (1.7 × 10⁶ m³/day) resulted in great depths to groundwater (>100 m) and formed huge cones of depressions that connected together to cover the whole oasis and extend further beyond its borders. It was found that the best option for groundwater management in the oasis is the implementation of an extraction rate of 1.46 × 10⁶ m³/day, as the depths to groundwater will never exceed the 100 m limit.