Quantification of groundwater recharge in the city of Nottingham, UK

Y. Yang; D.N. Lerner; M.H. Barrett; J.H. Tellam

Environmental Geology 38 (3) September 1999 7: 183-198


Groundwater is an important and valuable resource for water supply to cities. In order to make full and wise use of the asset value, a clear understanding of the quantities and sources of urban groundwater recharge is needed. The water supply and disposal network is often an important source of recharge to urban groundwater through leakage from water mains and sewers. An approach to establishing the spatial and temporal amounts of the three urban recharge sources (precipitation, mains and sewers) is developed and illustrated using the Nottingham (UK) urban aquifer. A calibrated groundwater flow model is supplemented by calibrated solute balances for three conservative species (Cl, SO4 and total N), thus providing four lines of evidence to use in the recharge estimation. Nottingham is located on a Triassic sandstone aquifer with average precipitation of 700 mm/year. Using the models, current urban recharge is estimated to be 211 mm/year, of which 138 mm/year (B40%) is from mains leakage and 10 mm/year (B100%) is from sewer leakage. The wide confidence intervals result from the scarcity of historical field data and the long turnover time in this high volume aquifer, and should be significantly lower for many other aquifer systems.

Key words

Solute balance; urbanisation; sewer and water supply leakage; groundwater modelling; Triassic sandstone.

Figure 1. Conceptual model of urban pathways affecting water movement from precipitation to recharge.

Figure 2. Conceptual model of urban pathways of water supply to waste and recharge