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Development of a groundwater model in the framework of a LIFE-project

This study is carried out commissioned by the VMM (Department Operational Water Management) in the framework of the LIFE+ project “[In Dutch] Grootschalig Habitatherstel in de Kleine Netevallei”. The LIFE+ project comprises an ecohydrological study in the area “Kleine Nete’” of the Habitats area BE2100026 “Valley area of the Kleine Nete with source areas, swamps and heath”. A surface water, groundwater and ecohydrological model (NICHE) are developed to examine which interventions in the water management will aid in the maintenance and repair of groundwater dependent terrestrial vegetation types.

The groundwater model is developed by AGT. The study area comprises several surface water bodies (canals, rivers, streams, ditches and ponds) and is characterized by a shallow groundwater level in the area of interest. The groundwater system consists of a phreatic, sandy aquifer and samples showed that this aquifer is potentially well drained to the surface water. However, the water level in the surface water bodies strongly depends on the tidal influence in the Kleine Nete. It could result in a small drainage and local rewetting in the valley of the Kleine Nete. This is specifically examined in the groundwater model by paying attention to the interactions between ground- and surface water and the water balances in the unsaturated zone. The model calibration is performed iteratively using SWAP simulations for the unsaturated zone and MODFLOW for the simulation of water fluxes in the groundwater. The calibration objectives are defined by the measured head values. The model is validated by vegetation and inundation data. The outcome of several scenarios comprising water level management or structural operations in the surface water bodies will be examined.