Modeling Meets Mirror Lake: How Highly Urbanized Areas Influence Surface Water-Groundwater Interactions at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Name: Mazvita Marilyn Chikomo
Majors: Environmental Geoscience
Advisors: Dr. Shelley Judge, Dr. Greg Wiles (Second Reader)
Water plays a vital role in sustaining life, and the availability or lack of it shapes how communities thrive and behave. As societies industrialize and urbanize, waterbodies for aesthetic purposes increase, and this may alter surface water-groundwater interactions. This study aims to look at the impacts of water use and management on a large university campus, The Ohio State University (Columbus, Ohio USA), at a treasured recreational lake and how it influences the groundwater system through groundwater modeling. Utilizing available topographic and climatological data along with ground-based water level measurements, we model seasonal changes in groundwater storage and lake-groundwater exchange using MODFLOW 6. Preliminary model results of a simplified overview of annual flow agrees reasonably well with observed heads (water levels). Discrepancies are likely due to complex geology and the presence of a dense urban infrastructure like storm sewers that influence groundwater flow. The lake loses approximately 432 cubic meters of water to the aquifer daily (0.005m3/sec), and as a result, must be fed by a steady supply of new water. For context, these losses are equivalent to the daily domestic water needs of approximately 1768 college students. These results provide new insights into water resources on an urban campus and the complex surface water-groundwater interactions in heavily modified human spaces.