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Radial Collector Well Empirical Equations Comparison

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2nd International conference on sustainable development, strategies and challenges
With a focus on Agriculture, Natural Resources, Environment and Tourism
23-25 Feb 2016, Tabriz , Iran

Radial Collector Well Empirical Equations


Comparison
S. Masoudiashtiani1, R. C. Peralta2, M. E. Banihabib3
1. PhD Candidate, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Utah State University, USA.,
s_masoudi1361@yahoo.com
2. Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, Utah State University, USA.,
peralta.rc@gmail.com
3. Associate Professor and Head, Department of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, College of Aburaihan,
University of Tehran, Iran., banihabib@ut.ac.ir

Abstract

Groundwater is often a relatively reliable, clean, and safe source of water supply. However, in
some locations, including sites in arid and semiarid regions, the aquifer saturated thickness may
be insufficient for vertical tube wells to extract desired water rates. Radial Collector (RC) wells
are advantageous for obtaining sustained groundwater yield from thin aquifers located near
hydraulically connected surface water. An RC well abstracts groundwater with less drawdown
at the well casing than usually occurs at a traditional vertical well extracting the same pumping
rate. An RC well consists of a central caisson from which multiple horizontal lateral lines extend
horizontally. Available steady-state analytical solutions differ in assumptions, situational
suitability, and accuracy. Applying numerical simulation models (finite difference, finite
element, and analytic element), to compute RC head response to pumping also involves
simplifying assumptions that impact accuracy. The empirical equation of Patel et al. seems most
accurate of all empirical and analytical equations. Assume an RC well located 100-350 m from
a river, in a shallow unconfined aquifer having 8-15 m saturated thickness of unconsolidated
sand and gravel of hydraulic conductivity equal to or exceeding 500 m/d. Assume the RC well
has a 3-m caisson radius, 24 symmetrically placed laterals, lateral lengths of 35-100 meters,
and total steady pumping not exceeding 250 liters per second. The Patel Equation computes
caisson head about 4 % higher than heads computed by a numerical analytic element (AEM)
model. For the same range of situations, the McWhorter and Sunada (M&S) Equation computes
heads less than 2.6 % greater than the Patel Equation. Having a total error of less than seven
percent is good news of well designers experienced in using the Thiem Equation. The M&S
Equation is based upon the Thiem Equation, and comparably easy to use.

Key words: Radial Collector well, unconsolidated and unconfined aquifer, Ranney well.
1. Introduction

Radial Collector (RC) wells are often constructed to obtain filtered water from relatively
polluted river water. The soil between the riverbed and the screens of RC well collector laterals
acts as natural filter and can eliminate much of the pollutant present in the river water. This
helps users access a relatively clean water supply for sustainable development in small rural
areas.
RC wells are especially useful in aquifers that have small saturated thickness. An RC well’s
horizontal porous lateral lines run parallel to, rather than perpendicular to, aquifer saturated

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thickness. The drawdown at an RC well is less than that at a vertical well pumping the same
rate. Thus, RC wells can often target relatively thin water-bearing strata or fracture zones better
than vertical tube wells (Ball et. al. 1992). RC wells are particularly well suited for obtaining
sustained groundwater yield in some situations.
Of the valuable literature-reported steady-state empirical or analytical equations for RC wells,
all have some limitations for field use (Petrovic 1956; Kordas 1960). Milojevic (1963b) used
image theory and superposition to present an equation for one RC well in a homogeneous and
isotropic artesian aquifer of limited thickness and unconfined side expansion. He assumed
uniform drawdown along the laterals and proximity to a river or surface water body of constant
head:

𝑡 0.10 𝐷 0.15 𝑇
𝑄 = 𝑘 𝑇(𝐻 − ℎ0 ) ( ) ( ) [4.13𝑚0.1415 − 1.22 ( )]
𝐿 𝐿 𝐿
2
𝑇 3
[0.914+0.0183𝑚−0.348( ) ]
𝐿
1
×( )
2𝑏
𝑙𝑜𝑔10 𝐿

Where
Q - total discharge in m3/d;
H - thickness of aquifer in m;
h0 - head in the RC well in m;
T - water bearing layer thickness in m;
k - filtration coefficient of aquifer in m/d;
t - height of drain pipe (lateral) above the impervious stratum in m;
L - length of each lateral in m;
m - number of laterals;
b - well distance from the river bank in m;
D - diameter of drain pipe in m;
with such constraints:

𝑇
0.2 ≤ ≤2
𝐿
4 ≤ 𝑚 ≤ 12
𝑏
1.5 ≤ ≤8
𝐿
𝑡 𝑇
0.06 ≤ ≤
𝐿 2
𝐷
0.0172 ≤ ≤ 0.0343
𝐿

McWhorter and Sunada (1977) adapted the Thiem Eq commonly used for pumping vertical
wells under steady-state conditions. The McWhorter and Sunada (M&S) equation assumes an
approximate effective radius of the RC well as a function of the uniform lateral length L.
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𝑟𝑤 = 0.61 × 𝐿

The M&S Equation for an unconfined aquifer is:

𝜋 𝑘 (𝐻 2 − ℎ𝑤
2
)
𝑄=
𝑅
𝑙𝑛(𝑟 )
𝑤

and for a confined aquifer is:

2 𝜋 𝑇 (𝐻 − ℎ𝑤 )
𝑄=
𝑅
𝑙𝑛(𝑟 )
𝑤

Where
Q - total discharge in m3/d;
k - hydraulic conductivity of aquifer in m/d;
H - saturated thickness of aquifer in m;
hw - depth of water in RC well over base of aquifer in m;
R - radius of influence in m;
rw - effective radius of the well in m;
L - length of each lateral in m;

Patel et. al. (2010) contrasted results from several methods, including finite difference method
(FDM) in Modflow, analytic element method (AEM), and some important empirical equations.
They used AEM modeling tools to simulate many scenarios within reasonable ranges and tested
their developed equation for more than 400 different data sets in a thin alluvial riverbed aquifer.
The AEM-Based empirical equation is (Patel et. al., 2010):

−0.745
0.1626 0.149 −0.4014𝜃 0.8346 (𝐻1.72
𝑅
𝑄 = 2.96𝐶 𝐿 𝑒 𝑘 − ℎ1.72
𝑤 )
1.0613
× [𝑙𝑛 ( )]
𝐿 + 𝑟𝑤

Where
Q - total discharge from RC well in m3/h;
L - length of each lateral in m;
θ - angle between adjacent two laterals in radian;
k - hydraulic conductivity of aquifer in m/h;

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H - saturated thickness of aquifer in m;


hw - head in central collector well caisson in m;
R - radius of influence in m;
rw - radius of caisson in m;
C - specific conductance in m/h;

The equation gives satisfactory results for numbers of symmetrical laterals ranging from 12 to
24. The difference between the AEM-Based empirical equation and AEM simulation is less
than 4 percent. They used table 1 data for the case study located in a thin alluvial riverbed
aquifer of the Mahi River of Gujarat in western India.

Table 1: Case Study Data


Parameter Unit Value
Number of laterals ----- 16
Length of lateral M 35
Drawdown M 4
Radius of influence
M 250
(or distance from river)
Radius of caisson M 3
Hydraulic conductivity m/h 25
Thickness of saturated aquifer M 8
Diameter of drain pipe M 0.3
Specific conductance m/h 4

For comparable situations, table 2 shows the differences in discharges computed by their
equation and other empirical equations (Patel et. al., 2010).

Table 2: Comparison of Discharges between different empirical methods


Method Discharge (m3/h)
McWhorter & Sunada, Unconfined (1977) 1532
Petrovic (1956) 5359
Kordas (1960) 3143
Milojevic (1963) 1372
Patel et. al. (2010) 1491

2. Methods and Materials

We use table 2 data to estimate the percentage difference between other equations and the Patel
et al. Eq (Patel et. al., 2010), which we assume is most accurate.

𝑃𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡𝑎𝑔𝑒 𝑜𝑓 𝐷𝑖𝑓𝑓𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑐𝑒
(𝑃𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙 𝑒𝑡. 𝑎𝑙. 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑙𝑡 − 𝑒𝑚𝑝𝑖𝑟𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑙𝑡)
= × 100
𝑃𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑙 𝑒𝑡. 𝑎𝑙. 𝑒𝑞𝑢𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑢𝑙𝑡

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Table 3 summarizes the percentage differences. A negative percentage means that the results
of an empirical equation are higher than the AEM-Based empirical equation (Patel et. al., 2010).

Table 3: Percentage of differences between other empirical equations and the Patel Eq.
Method Difference (%)
Petrovic (1956) -259.42
Kordas (1960) -110.8
Milojevic (1963) 8
McWhorter & Sunada - unconfined (1977) -2.75

In table 3, the M&S Equation provides results most like those of the Patel et al Eq. Using table
4 data ranges, we contrast results from using the M&S Equation and the Patel et al Eq.

Table 4: Reasonable ranges of the data


Parameter Unit Value
Number of laterals ----- 12,14,16,18,20,22,24
Length of each lateral m 10,20,30,35,40,50,60,70,80,90,100
Total discharge m3/h (m3/d or lit/s) 900 (21600 or 250) and 1800 (43200 or 500)

Radius of influence
m 50,100,150,200,250,300,350
(or distance from river)
Radius of caisson m 3
Hydraulic conductivity m/h (or m/d) 18.75 (or 450) and 25 (or 600)
Thickness of saturated aquifer m 8
Diameter of drain pipe m 0.3
Specific conductance m/h 4

3. Results and Discussion


Table 4 data represents reasonable ranges based on previous work by Bakker et. al. (2005),
Patel et. al. (2010), Haitjema et. al. (2010), Moore et. al. (2012) and water management,
construction, and drilling companies in the USA. For example, the diameter of laterals (drain
pipes) of 0.3 meter (12 inch) is common because larger diameters (such as 0.5 and 0.6 meters
(20 and 24 inches) are more prone to screen collapse and require more effort and costly
equipment to install. We select the number of laterals in line with the constraint of the AEM-
Based empirical equation. The 3-meter caisson radius is within the 2.5-4.5 range tested by Patel
et. al. (2010) used the range of 2.5 to 4.5 meter. Within that range, Patel et. al. results changed
less than 3 percent.
In this study, we evaluated the accuracy of McWhorter and Sunada’s empirical equation with
considering the AEM-Based empirical equation (Patel et. al., 2010) as an accurate solution. The
height of the laterals from the bottom of an unconfined aquifer does not exist in the AEM-Based
empirical equation and McWhorter and Sunada’s empirical equation but Patel et. al. (2010)
used 1 meter for their comparisons among empirical equations with the saturated thickness of

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8 meter for the aquifer. Usually, we need to set the laterals near to the bottom of the aquifer to
gain more water for RC wells. The specific conductance depends on the entrance resistance and
the head loss owing to the vertical flow. We applied the diameter of 0.3 meter for the laterals
and then used 4 meter per day for the specific conductance. An unconfined shallow aquifer with
high hydraulic conductivity that includes gravels and coarse sands has the upper range of
hydraulic conductivity between 100 to 1000 meter per day. Therefore, our study is valid for the
hydraulic conductivity of 500 meter per day or more.
We applied McWhorter and Sunada’s equations (confined and unconfined equations) for our
evaluation. Furthermore, we looked at the worst scenarios among our estimations. The worst
scenarios present the highest differences without involving the number of laterals in table 5.

Table 5: Worst scenarios


Hydraulic Total
Length of each Distance from Difference of
conductivity discharge Equation Type
lateral (m) Stream (m) RC head (%)
(m/d) (lit/s)

McWhorter &
Sunada - 35 to 100 50 to 350 < -4.80
Unconfined
250
McWhorter &
Sunada - 35 to 100 100 to 350 < -20.4
Confined
450
McWhorter &
Sunada - 35 to 100 50 to 350 > 22
Unconfined
500
McWhorter &
Sunada - 35 to 100 50 to 350 > -16.6
Confined

McWhorter & 35 to 70 < -6.90


Sunada - 50 to 350
Unconfined 80 to 100 < 3.45
250
McWhorter &
Sunada - 20 to 100 50 to 350 < -25.85
Confined
600
McWhorter &
Sunada - 35 to 100 50 to 350 < 38.53
Unconfined
500
McWhorter &
Sunada - 10 to 100 50 to 350 > -10
Confined

The lowest differences (less than -4.80, -6.90 and 3.45 percent) occur in McWhorter and
Sunada’s unconfined empirical equation with the reasonable total discharge (250 liters per
second), the longest range of the length (35 to 100 meter) and the entire range of the distance
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(50 to 350 meter). In general, the best estimations take place in McWhorter and Sunada’s
unconfined empirical equation with the reasonable discharge in table 5.
We developed our estimations based on the equation type, the number of laterals, the length of
each lateral, the distance from the center of RC well to a stream to find the range of the
differences for the estimation of RC well head in table 6.

Table 6: Percentage of the difference of the RC well head


Hydraulic Total Number Length of Distance Difference
conductivity discharge Equation Type of each lateral from Stream of RC heads
(m/d) (lit/s) laterals (m) (m) (%)

12 35 to 70 100 to 350 < -4.80


McWhorter & Sunada
12 80 to 100 100 to 350 < 1.44
- Unconfined
24 35 to 100 50 to 350 < 4.75
250
20 to 30 50 to 350 < -26.20
McWhorter & Sunada
24 35 to 50 50 to 350 < -7.90
- Confined
60 to 80 200 to 350 < -3.13
450
40 to 50 50 to 150 < 15.13
McWhorter & Sunada
12 60 to 70 50 to 250 < 23.56
- Unconfined
80 to 100 100 to 300 < 19.44
500

McWhorter & Sunada 50 to 60 150 to 350 < -121.62


24
- Confined 70 to 100 250 to 350 < -23.30

20 to 30 100 to 350 < -4.51


35 to 40 100 to 350 < -1.88
McWhorter &
24 50 to 60 150 to 300 < -0.71
Sunada - Unconfined
50 to 70 100 to 150 < 1.72
250 70 to 100 150 to 350 < 1.71
20 to 30 50 to 350 < -15.20
McWhorter & Sunada 35 to 70 100 to 350 < -7.50
24
- Confined 80 to 100 200 to 350 < -1.60
80 to 100 100 to 150 < 3.30
600
24 20 to 30 50 to 100 < -4.00
McWhorter & Sunada
24 35 to 50 50 to 250 < 14.60
- Unconfined
12 60 to 80 150 to 300 < -5.10
500

McWhorter & Sunada 35 to 60 100 to 350 < -76.90


24
- Confined 60 to 90 200 to 350 < -16.73

The results of McWhorter and Sunada’s unconfined empirical equation show less than 1.88
percent of the difference (overestimation or underestimation) with 24 laterals, the length of
laterals measuring between 35 to 100 meter, the distance from a stream being between 100 to
350 meter in table 6 and figures 1, 2 and 3. It means that designers need to install 24 laterals
symmetrically with considering the length and the distance in table 6.
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0
12 14 16 18 20 22 24
-1

-2
-1.87
Difference (%)

-3
100 m
-4 150 m

-5 200 m
250 m
-6
300 m
-7 350 m

-8
Number of Laterals

Figure 1: Percentage of Difference for RC heads in various distances from a stream, Length of
each lateral of 35 m, Total discharge of 21600 m3/d (250 lit/s).
2

0
12 14 16 18 20 22 24
-1 -0.71
Difference (%)

-2 100 m
-3 150 m
200 m
-4
250 m
-5 300 m
-6 350 m

-7

-8 Number of Laterals

Figure 2: Percentage of Difference for RC heads in various number of laterals and distances,
Length of each lateral of 50 m, Total discharge of 21600 m3/d (250 lit/s).

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2
1.00
1

0
12 14 16 18 20 22 24
-1
Difference (%)

-2

-3 100 m
150 m
-4
200 m
-5
250 m
-6 300 m
-7 350 m

-8
Number of Laterals

Figure 3: Percentage of Difference for RC heads in various number of laterals and distances,
Length of each lateral of 60 m, Total discharge of 21600 m3/d (250 lit/s).

Then we extended the range of the data for properties of the aquifers. We used the hydraulic
conductivities of 300, 400, 500, 600 and 700 meter per day, and applied the saturated thickness
of 15 meter. We respected the ranges of the length, the distance, the reasonable total discharge
of 250 liters per second and 24 laterals with the lowest differences in table 6. The results show
the highest difference is about 2.6 percent (overestimation) with the hydraulic conductivity of
700 meter per day and the saturated thickness of 8 meter in figure 4. With the increase of the
hydraulic conductivity and the saturated thickness, the difference going to be less. In addition,
we have satisfactory estimations for hydraulic conductivities of 300 and 400 meter per day with
the saturated thickness of 15 meter in figure 5. However, Patel et. al. developed their equation
for a thin unconsolidated aquifer with the high hydraulic conductivity of 600 meter per day. We
cannot apply Patel et. al. AEM-Based empirical equation and our comparison for the low
hydraulic conductivities or high saturated thicknesses.
In general, our comparison shows the difference between McWhorter and Sunada’s empirical
equation and Patel et. al. AEM-Based empirical equation going to be less than 2.6 percent.
Furthermore, the difference between McWhorter and Sunada’s empirical equation and AEM
simulation can be less than seven percent at most according to Patel et. al. study for their
equation.

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L = 35m, R = 100m
50
L = 50m, R = 100m
45 L = 60m, R = 100m
40 L = 35m, R = 200m
35 L = 50m, R = 200m
Difference (%)

30 L = 60m, R = 200m
25 L = 35m, R = 300m
20 L = 50m, R = 300m
15 L = 60m, R = 300m
10
5
0
-5 300 400 500 600 700 -2.63
Hydraulic conductivity (m/d)

Figure 4: Percentage of Difference for RC heads in 24 laterals, various distances and lengths of
each lateral, Total discharge of 21600 m3/d (250 lit/s), the saturated thickness of 8 meter and
various hydraulic conductivities.

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L = 35m, R = 100m
50
L = 50m, R = 100m
45 L = 60m, R = 100m
40 L = 35m, R = 200m
35 L = 50m, R = 200m
30 L = 60m, R = 200m
Difference %

25 L = 35m, R = 300m
L = 50m, R = 300m
20
L = 60m, R = 300m
15
10
5
0
-5 300 400 500 -2.17 600 700
Hydraulic conductivity (m/d)

Figure 5: Percentage of Difference for RC heads in 24 laterals, various distances and lengths of
each lateral, Total discharge of 21600 m3/d (250 lit/s), the saturated thickness of 15 meter and
various hydraulic conductivities.

4. Conclusions

RC wells are especially suited to obtaining water from thin aquifers or saturated fractured strata.
RC wells cause much less drawdown than vertical tube wells pumping at the same rate. RC
wells can provide sustained groundwater yield or necessary seasonal yield in locations where
tube wells cannot. Because applying numerical modeling methods, such as FDM, FEM and
AEM, is somewhat laborious, many designers prefer to use analytical or empirical equations
instead. The AEM-based empirical equation of Patel et. al. is somewhat of a hybrid. We
compare collector-well central heads predicted using the equations of Patel et al. and
McWhorter and Sunada (M & S). The M&S Equation is an RC well-adaptation of the Thiem
Equation. For a 24-lateral RC well in an unconfined aquifer located 100-350 meters from a
stream, the M&S Equation computes head within about 2.6 % of that computed by Patel et al.
Eq. for these tested situations: hydraulic conductivity of 500-700 m/d (we did not test higher
values); reasonable total discharge of 250 liters per second or less; lateral length of 35-100
meters. For that range, the M&S Equation computes head within seven percent of that computed
by Analytical Element Method numerical simulation model.
In essence, this research demonstrates reasonable agreement in simulation ability between the
evaluated models for high hydraulic conductivity situations. Even the simple M&S equation
can help provide RC well designs for sustainably obtaining relatively clean water from thin or
thick aquifers in arid and semi-arid regions.

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5. Acknowledgment

The authors thank Andy Smith (Layne Company, USA), for his help regarding RC well
construction.

References

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[2] Ball DF, Herbert R. The Use and Performance of Collector Wells within the Regolith Aquifer of Sri
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[3] Haitjema H, Kuzin S, Kelson V, Abrams D. Modeling Flow into Horizontal Wells in a Dupuit-
Forchheimer Model. Ground Water; 48(6): 878-883, 2010.
[4] Huisman L. Groundwater Recovery, The Macmillan Press LTD, London and Basingstoke, 1972.
[5] McWhorter DB, Sunada, DK. Groundwater hydrology and hydraulics, Water Resources Publication,
LLC. Englewood, Colorado, 1977.
[6] Milojevic M. Radial collector wells adjacent to the riverbank. Journal of the Hydraulics Division,
Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers; 89(6): 133-151, 1963b.
[7] Moore R, Kelson V, Wittman J, Rash V. A Modeling Framework for the Design of Collector Wells.
Ground Water; 50(3): 355-366, 2012.
[8] Patel HM, Eldho TI, Rastogi AK. Simulation of Radial Collector Well in Shallow Alluvial Riverbed
Aquifer Using Analytic Element Method. Journal of Irrigation and Drainage Engineering, ASCE;
136(2): 107-119, 2010.
[9] USGS. Basic Ground-Water Hydrology, Water-Supply Paper 2220 (eighth Printing). Denver,
Colorado, 1998.

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