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Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5172

Prepared in cooperation with the Town of Framingham, Massachusetts

Simulation of Groundwater and Surface-Water Interaction and Effects of Pumping in a Complex Glacial-Sediment Aquifer, East Central Massachusetts

By Jack R. Eggleston, Carl S. Carlson, Gillian M. Fairchild, and Phillip J. Zarriello

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (6.56 MB)Abstract

The effects of groundwater pumping on surface-water features were evaluated by use of a numerical groundwater model developed for a complex glacial-sediment aquifer in northeastern Framingham, Massachusetts, and parts of surrounding towns. The aquifer is composed of sand, gravel, silt, and clay glacial-fill sediments up to 270 feet thick over an irregular fractured bedrock surface. Surface-water bodies, including Cochituate Brook, the Sudbury River, Lake Cochituate, Dudley Pond, and adjoining wetlands, are in hydraulic connection with the aquifer and can be affected by groundwater withdrawals.

Groundwater and surface-water interaction was simulated with MODFLOW-NWT under current conditions and a variety of hypothetical pumping conditions. Simulations of hypothetical pumping at reactivated water supply wells indicate that captured groundwater would decrease baseflow to the Sudbury River and induce recharge from Lake Cochituate. Under constant (steady-state) pumping, induced groundwater recharge from Lake Cochituate was equal to about 32 percent of the simulated pumping rate, and flow downstream in the Sudbury River decreased at the same rate as pumping. However, surface water responded quickly to pumping stresses. When pumping was simulated for 1 month and then stopped, streamflow depletions decreased by about 80 percent within 2 months and by about 90 percent within about 4 months. The fast surface water response to groundwater pumping offers the potential to substantially reduce streamflow depletions during periods of low flow, which are of greatest concern to the ecological integrity of the river. Results indicate that streamflow depletion during September, typically the month of lowest flow, can be reduced by 29 percent by lowering the maximum pumping rates to near zero during September. Lowering pumping rates for 3 months (July through September) reduces streamflow depletion during September by 79 percent as compared to constant pumping. These results demonstrate that a seasonal or streamflow-based groundwater pumping schedule can reduce the effects of pumping during periods of low flow.

First posted September 18, 2012

For additional information contact:
U.S. Geological Survey
Massachusetts-Rhode Island Water Science Center
10 Bearfoot Road
Northborough, MA 01532
(508) 490-5000

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Suggested citation:

Eggleston, J.R., Carlson, C.S., Fairchild, G.M., and Zarriello, P.J., 2012, Simulation of groundwater and surface-water interaction and effects of pumping in a complex glacial-sediment aquifer, east central Massachusetts: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2012–5172, 48 p., at





Purpose and Scope

Study Area

Previous Investigations


Borehole Data

Geophysical Data


Glacial Sediment History

Water Resources

Surface-Water Features

Groundwater Levels and Flow Paths

Water Use

Groundwater-Flow Model

Model Design


Model Boundaries

Hydraulic Conductivity

Storage Coefficients




Model Calibration

Steady-State Calibration

Transient Model Calibration

Model Uncertainty and Sensitivity Analysis

Model Limitations

Simulated Aquifer and Streamflow Response

Steady-State Simulations

Transient Model Simulations

Evaluation of Pumping Strategies to Reduce Low-Flow Stresses

Summary and Conclusions

References Cited

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