Considerations for Use of the Rora Program to Estimate Ground-Water Recharge from Streamflow Records

U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 00-156

By A.T. Rutledge

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The RORA program can be used to estimate ground-water recharge in a basin from analysis of a streamflow record. The program can be appropriate for use if the ground-water flow system is characterized by diffuse areal recharge to the water table and discharge to a stream.


The use of the program requires an estimate of a recession index, which is the time required for ground-water discharge to recede by one log cycle after recession becomes linear or near-linear on the semilog hydrograph. Although considerable uncertainty is inherent in the recession index, the results of the RORA program may not be sensitive to this variable.


Testing shows that the program can yield consistent estimates under conditions that include leakage to or from deeper aquifers and ground-water evapotranspiration. These tests indicate that RORA estimates the net recharge, which is recharge to the water table minus leakage to a deeper aquifer, or recharge minus ground-water evapotranspiration.


Before the program begins making calculations it designates days that fit a requirement of antecedent recession, and these days are used in calculations. The program user might increase the antecedent-recession requirement above its default value to reduce the influence of errors that are caused by direct-surface runoff, but other errors can result from the reduction in the number of peaks detected.


To obtain an understanding of flow systems, results from the RORA program might be used in conjunction with other methods such as analysis of ground-water levels, estimates of ground-water discharge from other forms of hydrograph separation, and low-flow variables. Relations among variables may be complex for a variety of reasons; for example, there may not be a unique relation between ground-water level and ground-water discharge, ground-water recharge and discharge are not synchronous, and low-flow variables can be related to other factors such as the recession index.




The Rorabaugh Model

The RORA Program

Suggested Constraints on Program Use

Experimental Design for Testing Rora

Evaluation of the Program

Recession Index

Time of Recharge

Effects of Leakage

Effect of Ground-Water Evapotranspiration

Requirement of Antecedent Recession

Time Scale for Reporting Results

Relations Among Methods

Use of Ground-Water-Level Data

Base-Flow-Record Estimation

Use of Low-Flow Variables



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