Map visualization of groundwater withdrawals at the sub-basin scale

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A simple method is proposed to visualize the magnitude of groundwater withdrawals from wells relative to user-defined water-resource metrics. The map is solely an illustration of the withdrawal magnitudes, spatially centered on wells—it is not capture zones or source areas contributing recharge to wells. Common practice is to scale the size (area) of withdrawal well symbols proportional to pumping rate. Symbols are drawn large enough to be visible, but not so large that they overlap excessively. In contrast to such graphics-based symbol sizes, the proposed method uses a depth-rate index (length per time) to visualize the well withdrawal rates by volumetrically consistent areas, called “footprints”. The area of each individual well’s footprint is the withdrawal rate divided by the depth-rate index. For example, the groundwater recharge rate could be used as a depth-rate index to show how large withdrawals are relative to that recharge. To account for the interference of nearby wells, composite footprints are computed by iterative nearest-neighbor distribution of excess withdrawals on a computational and display grid having uniform square cells. The map shows circular footprints at individual isolated wells and merged footprint areas where wells’ individual footprints overlap. Examples are presented for depth-rate indexes corresponding to recharge, to spatially variable stream baseflow (normalized by basin area), and to the average rate of water-table decline (scaled by specific yield). These depth-rate indexes are water-resource metrics, and the footprints visualize the magnitude of withdrawals relative to these metrics.




Goode, D. J. (2016). Map visualization of groundwater withdrawals at the sub-basin scale. Hydrogeology Journal, 24(4), 1057–1065.

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