An Improved Model for the Evaluation of Groundwater Recharge

An Improved Model for the Evaluation of Groundwater Recharge

An Improved Model for the Evaluation of Groundwater Recharge Based on the Concept of Conservative Use Potential: A Study in the River Pandeiros Watershed, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Water resources have been increasingly impacted due to the growth of water demand associated with environmental degradation. In this context, the mapping of groundwater recharge potential has become attractive to water managers as it can be used to direct public policies and conserve this natural asset. The present study modifies (improves) a spatially explicit model to determine groundwater recharge potential at the catchment scale, testing it in the Pandeiros River basin located in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

The model is generally based on the water balance approach and the input variables were compiled from institutional sources and processed in a Geographic Information System. The novelty brought by the aforementioned modification relates to the coupling of physical variables (conventional way) and land management practices (introduced here) in the estimation of a percolation factor.

The role of land management practices for percolation was assessed by the so-called Conservative Use Potential (PUC) method, which classifies the areas of a river basin in terms of their potential for sustainable use.

The results were validated by an independent method, namely the recession curve method based on the interpretation of hydrographs. In general, the groundwater recharge potential is favored in flat to gently undulating areas and forested regions, as well as where the landscape is characterized by well-structured soils, good drainage conditions and large hydraulic conductivity. The map of groundwater recharge potential produced in this study can be used by planners and decision makers in the Pandeiros River basin as a tool to achieve sustainable use of groundwater resources and the protection of recharge areas.