Modeling approaches and strategies for data-scarce aquifers: example of the Dar es Salaam aquifer in Tanzania


Management of groundwater resources can be improved by using groundwater models to perform risk analyses and to improve development strategies, but a lack of extensive basic data often limits the implementation of sophisticated models. Dar es Salaam in Tanzania is an example of a city where increasing groundwater use in a Pleistocene aquifer is causing groundwater-related problems such as saline intrusion along the coastline, lowering of water-table levels, and contamination of pumping wells. The lack of a water-level monitoring network introduces a problem for basic data collection and model calibration and validation. As a replacement, local watersupply wells were used for measuring groundwater depth, and well-top heights were estimated from a regional digital elevation model to recalculate water depths to hydraulic heads. These were used to draw a regional piezometric map. Hydraulic parameters were estimated from short-time pumping tests in the local wells, but variation in hydraulic conductivity was attributed to uncertainty in well characteristics (information often unavailable) and not to aquifer heterogeneity. A MODFLOW model was calibrated with a homogeneous hydraulic conductivity field and a sensitivity analysis between the conductivity and aquifer recharge showed that average annual recharge will likely be in the range 80–100mm/year.


Journal article


Africa, Coastal aquifers, Groundwater flow, Over-abstraction, Numerical modeling