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Open-File Report 2013–1086

Prepared in cooperation with the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department and Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources

Estimation of Capture Zones and Drawdown at theNorthwest and West Well Fields, Miami-Dade County,Florida, Using an Unconstrained Monte Carlo Analysis: Recent (2004) and Proposed Conditions

By Linzy Brakefield, Joseph D. Hughes, Christian D. Langevin, and Kevin Chartier

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Travel-time capture zones and drawdown for two production well fields, used for drinking-water supply in Miami-Dade County, southeastern Florida, were delineated by the U.S Geological Survey using an unconstrained Monte Carlo analysis. The well fields, designed to supply a combined total of approximately 250 million gallons of water per day, pump from the highly transmissive Biscayne aquifer in the urban corridor between the Everglades and Biscayne Bay. A transient groundwater flow model was developed and calibrated to field data to ensure an acceptable match between simulated and observed values for aquifer heads and net exchange of water between the aquifer and canals. Steady-state conditions were imposed on the transient model and a post-processing backward particle-tracking approach was implemented. Multiple stochastic realizations of horizontal hydraulic conductivity, conductance of canals, and effective porosity were simulated for steady-state conditions representative of dry, average and wet hydrologic conditions to calculate travel-time capture zones of potential source areas of the well fields. Quarry lakes, formed as a product of rock-mining activities, whose effects have previously not been considered in estimation of capture zones, were represented using high hydraulic-conductivity, high-porosity cells, with the bulk hydraulic conductivity of each cell calculated based on estimates of aquifer hydraulic conductivity, lake depths and aquifer thicknesses. A post-processing adjustment, based on calculated residence times using lake outflows and known lake volumes, was utilized to adjust particle endpoints to account for an estimate of residence-time-based mixing of lakes. Drawdown contours of 0.1 and 0.25 foot were delineated for the dry, average, and wet hydrologic conditions as well. In addition, 95-percent confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated for the capture zones and drawdown contours to delineate a zone of uncertainty about the median estimates.

Results of the Monte Carlo simulations indicate particle travel distances at the Northwest Well Field (NWWF) and West Well Field (WWF) are greatest to the west, towards the Everglades. The man-made quarry lakes substantially affect particle travel distances. In general near the NWWF, the capture zones in areas with lakes were smaller in areal extent than capture zones in areas without lakes. It is possible that contamination could reach the well fields quickly, within 10 days in some cases, if it were introduced into lakes nearest to supply wells, with one of the lakes being only approximately 650 feet from the nearest supply well.

In addition to estimating drawdown and travel-time capture zones of 10, 30, 100, and 210 days for the NWWF and the WWF under more recent conditions, two proposed scenarios were evaluated with Monte Carlo simulations: the potential hydrologic effects of proposed Everglades groundwater seepage mitigation and quarry-lake expansion. The seepage mitigation scenario included the addition of two proposed anthropogenic features to the model: (1) an impermeable horizontal flow barrier east of the L-31N canal along the western model boundary between the Everglades and the urban areas of Miami-Dade County, and (2) a recharge canal along the Dade-Broward Levee near the NWWF. Capture zones and drawdown for the WWF were substantially affected by the addition of the barrier, which eliminates flow from the western boundary into the active model domain, shifting the predominant capture zone source area from the west more to the north and south. The 95-percent CI for the 210-day capture zone moved slightly in the NWWF as a result of the recharge canal. The lake-expansion scenario incorporated a proposed increase in the number and surface area of lakes by an additional 25 square miles. This scenario represents a 150-percent increase from the 2004 lake surface area near both well fields, but with the majority of increase proposed near the NWWF. The lake-expansion scenario substantially decreased the extent of the 210-day capture zone of the NWWF, which is limited to the lakes nearest the well field under proposed conditions.

First posted April 19, 2013

For additional information contact:
Director, Florida Water Science Center
4446 Pet Lane, Suite 108
420 Lutz, FL 33559

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Suggested citation:

Brakefield, L., Hughes, J.D., Langevin, C.D., and Chartier, K., 2013, Estimation of capture zones and drawdown at the Northwest and West Well Fields, Miami-Dade County, Florida, using an unconstrained Monte Carlo analysis: recent (2004) and proposed conditions: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1086, 124 p., available online at






Description of Study Area

Simulation of Groundwater Flow near the Northwest and West Well Fields, 1996–2004

Estimation of Well-Field Capture Zones and Drawdown

Two Proposed Scenarios: Potential Effects of Seepage Mitigation and Lake Expansion on Capture Zones and Drawdown

Model Limitations

Summary and Conclusions

Selected References


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