Water Resources of Colorado

Comparison of Two Approaches for Determining Ground-Water Discharge and Pumpage in the Lower Arkansas River Basin, Colorado, 1997-98

by Russell G. Dash, Brent M. Troutman, and Patrick Edelmann

Available from the U.S. Geological Survey, Branch of Information Services, Box 25286, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225, USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4221, 39 p., 11 figs.

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In March 1994, the Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR) adopted “Rules Governing the Measurement of Tributary Ground Water Diversions Located in the Arkansas River Basin” (Office of the State Engineer, 1994); these initial rules were amended in February 1996 (Office of the State Engineer, 1996). The amended rules require users of wells that divert tributary ground water to annually report the water pumped monthly by each well. The rules allow a well owner to report the pumpage measured by a totalizing flowmeter (TFM) or pumpage determined from electrical power data and a power conversion coefficient (PCC) (Hurr and Litke, 1989).

Opinions by representatives of the State of Kansas, presented before the Special Master hearing a court case [State of Kansas v. State of Colorado, No. 105 Original (1996)] concerning post-Compact well pumping, stated that the PCC approach does not provide the same level of accuracy and reliability as a TFM when used to determine pumpage.

In 1997, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the CDWR, began a 2-year study to compare ground-water pumpage estimates made using the TFM and the PCC approaches. The study area was along the Arkansas River between Pueblo, Colorado, and the Colorado-Kansas State line (fig. 1).

The two approaches for estimating ground-water discharge and pumpage were compared for more than 100 wells completed in the alluvial aquifer of the Arkansas River Basin. The TFM approach uses an inline flowmeter to directly measure instantaneous discharge and the total volume of water pumped at a well. The PCC approach uses electrical power consumption records and a power conversion coefficient to estimate the pumpage at ground-water wells.

This executive summary describes the results of the comparison of the two approaches. Specifically, (1) the differences in instantaneous discharge measured with three portable flowmeters and measured with an inline TFM are evaluated, and the statistical differences in paired instantaneous discharge between the two approaches are determined; (2) short- and long-term variations in the PCC’s are presented; (3) differences in pumpage between the two approaches are evaluated, and the statistical differences in pumpage between the two approaches are determined; (4) potential sources of discrepancy between pumpage estimates are discussed; and (5) differences in total network pumpage using the two approaches are presented.

During the irrigation seasons of 1997 and 1998, instantaneous discharge and electrical power demand were measured at randomly selected wells to determine PCC’s. At more than 100 wells, the PCC’s determined during the 1998 season were applied to total electrical power consumption data that was recorded between the initial and final readings at each network well site in 1998 to estimate total ground-water pumpage.

At each site, an inline TFM was installed in a full-flowing, acceptable test section of pipe on the discharge side of the pump where the measurement of discharge was made. Measurements of instantaneous ground-water discharge also were made using three different types of portable flowmeters. The average velocity multiplied by the cross-sectional area of the discharge pipe was used to compute the discharge in gallons per minute. Whenever possible, discharge measurements were made at each network site using all three types of portable flowmeters.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Purpose and Scope


Methods of Investigation

Totalizing Flowmeter Measurements

Portable Flowmeter Measurements

Power Conversion Calculations and Computations of Pumpage

Quality Control of Data

Overview of the Statistics Used for Comparing Discharge and Pumpage

Comparison of Instantaneous Ground-Water Discharge Measurements

Primary Results

Details of Analysis and Results

Temporal Variations in Power Conversion Coefficients

Short-Term Variations in Power Conversion Coefficients

Long-Term Variations in Power Conversion Coefficients

Comparison of Ground-Water Pumpage Estimates

Primary Results

Details of Analysis and Results

Sources of Discrepancy Between Pumpage Estimates

Primary Results

Details of Analysis and Results

Estimation of Total Network Pumpage

Primary Results

Details of Analysis and Results


References Cited

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Water Resources of Colorado

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