On the Flow Characteristics (FC) method for estimating sustainable borehole yield
Keywords:fractured-rock aquifers, flow characteristics (FC) method, drawdown derivatives, safe borehole yield, sustainable borehole yield, impermeable boundaries
Flow Characteristics (FC) is one of the few methods developed for predicting long-term sustainable borehole yield of single wells in typical fractured rock aquifers. The FC method uses drawdown derivatives and subjective information on no-flow boundaries to estimate a sustainable borehole yield that should not cause the water level to drop below the main water strike (fracture) during long-term operations. Since its development, the FC method has been widely applied in many research and consulting projects. Two decades after its development, a review of its technical capabilities and limitations is necessary to enhance understanding among groundwater practitioners while building a platform for further improvements. The main strength of the method is its simplicity of use, its ability to protect the main water strike/fracture, and its lower susceptibility to the influence of aquifer heterogeneities because it does not require the input of aquifer storativity and transmissivity. The FC method also caters to the negative influence of impermeable boundaries, thereby enabling planning for different low-yield-causing scenarios. However, the major limitation is in using the subjective closed no-flow boundary without factoring aquifer storativity and the distance of the closed no-flow boundary from the pumping well. Under the influence of the closed no-flow boundary, the water must come from aquifer storage, hence the storativity and the size of the bounded aquifer are very critical parameters. It is therefore incorrect to factor in the influence of the closed no-flow boundary without considering its exact location. This limitation is reflected in the absence of criteria to determine the distance of the closed no-flow boundary from the pumping well for validating the FC results using numerical models. The FC method still needs validation using field operational data; other recommendations for future research are highlighted in the discussion.
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