Groundwater conceptualization and modeling using distributed SWAT-based recharge for the semi-arid agricultural Neishaboor plain, Iran

A Izady, K Davary, A Alizadeh, AN Ziaei, S Akhavan, A Alipoor, A Joodavi, ML Brusseau

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Increased irrigation in the Neishaboor watershed, Iran, during the last few decades has caused serious groundwater depletion, making the development of comprehensive mitigation strategies and tools increasingly important. In this study, SWAT and MODFLOW were employed to integratively simulate surface-water and groundwater flows. SWAT and MODFLOW were iteratively executed to compute spatial and temporal distributions of hydrologic components. The combined SWAT-MODFLOW model was calibrated (2000–2010) and validated (2010–2012) based on streamflow, wheat yield, groundwater extraction, and groundwater-level data. This multi-criteria calibration procedure provided greater confidence for the partitioning of water between soil storage, actual evapotranspiration, and aquifer recharge. The SWAT model provided satisfactory predictions of the hydrologic budget for the watershed outlet. It also provided good predictions of irrigated wheat yield and groundwater extraction. The 10-year mean annual recharge rate estimated using the combined model varied greatly, ranging from 0 to 960 mm, with an average of 176 mm. This result showed good agreement with the independently estimated annual recharge rate from an earlier study. The combined model provides a robust tool for the sustainable planning and management of water resources for areas with stressed aquifers where interaction between groundwater and surface water cannot be easily assessed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-68
Number of pages22
JournalHydrogeology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Combined calibration
  • Groundwater recharge/water budget
  • Groundwater/surface-water relations
  • Iran
  • Over-abstraction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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