A user-friendly groundwater modeling tool to inform decision-making in Arizona-Sonora transboundary aquifers

Amy Rosebrough and  T.P.A. Ferré
Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
The University of Arizona

Despite the international socioeconomic importance of transboundary aquifers along the Arizona-Sonora border, they are often understudied and lack sufficient data for complex hydrologic modeling due to geographical, political, economic, legal, and communicative obstacles. This study aims to overcome these obstacles through the creation of a generic modeling tool that allows stakeholders to access a model ensemble composed of basic conceptualizations of common Southern Arizona aquifer geometries within a regionally appropriate hydrologic parameter space. This approach allows us to simply and efficiently model fundamental hydrologic behavior in data-poor regions and effectively share the results with stakeholders through a Graphical User Interface (GUI). Stakeholders can interactively view model results within the GUI through toggling common aquifer geometries, boundary conditions, and parameter ranges to best fit their aquifer of interest. For example, stakeholders may alter magnitudes of mountain-front recharge, riparian evapotranspiration, or pumping rates of existing or proposed wells. The response of the system to these scenarios may then be evaluated through viewing plots of groundwater levels, stream flow, and well capture, which are shown as both the mean and variance over the ensemble to understand both system behavior and uncertainties due to limited data availability. The goal of this work is to provide a tool that hydrologists, regulators, and stakeholders can use to inform water-resources decision making for regions with limited available data.

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