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Techniques and Methods 4-F4

U. S. Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, Environmental Restoration Program, Underground Test Area Project

Advanced Methods for Modeling Water-Levels and Estimating Drawdowns with SeriesSEE, an Excel Add-In

By Keith Halford, C. Amanda Garcia, Joe Fenelon, and Benjamin Mirus

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (3.5 MB) Abstract

Water-level modeling is used for multiple-well aquifer tests to reliably differentiate pumping responses from natural water-level changes in wells, or “environmental fluctuations.” Synthetic water levels are created during water-level modeling and represent the summation of multiple component fluctuations, including those caused by environmental forcing and pumping. Pumping signals are modeled by transforming step-wise pumping records into water-level changes by using superimposed Theis functions. Water-levels can be modeled robustly with this Theis-transform approach because environmental fluctuations and pumping signals are simulated simultaneously. Water-level modeling with Theis transforms has been implemented in the program SeriesSEE, which is a Microsoft® Excel add-in. Moving average, Theis, pneumatic-lag, and gamma functions transform time series of measured values into water-level model components in SeriesSEE. Earth tides and step transforms are additional computed water-level model components. Water-level models are calibrated by minimizing a sum-of-squares objective function where singular value decomposition and Tikhonov regularization stabilize results. Drawdown estimates from a water-level model are the summation of all Theis transforms minus residual differences between synthetic and measured water levels. The accuracy of drawdown estimates is limited primarily by noise in the data sets, not the Theis-transform approach. Drawdowns much smaller than environmental fluctuations have been detected across major fault structures, at distances of more than 1 mile from the pumping well, and with limited pre-pumping and recovery data at sites across the United States. In addition to water-level modeling, utilities exist in SeriesSEE for viewing, cleaning, manipulating, and analyzing time-series data.

First posted December 21, 2012

Revised July 18, 2016

For additional information contact:
Director, Nevada Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
2730 N. Deer Run Road
Carson City, Nevada 89701

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Suggested citation:

Halford, K., Garcia, C.A., Fenelon, J., and Mirus, B., 2012, Advanced methods for modeling water-levels and estimating drawdowns with SeriesSEE, an Excel add-In, (ver. 1.1, July, 2016): U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 4–F4, 28 p.,




Purpose and Scope

Environmental Fluctuations

Water-Level Modeling


Applications of Water-Level Modeling

Water-Level Modeling Strategies

Summary and Conclusions


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