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Spatial and Temporal Potential Groundwater Recharge: the Case of the Doce River Basin, Brazil

Eliana de Souza ORCID logo , Lucas Machado Pontes, Elpídio Inácio Fernandes Filho, Carlos Ernesto Goncalves Reynaud Schaefer, Eliana Elizabet dos Santos


DOI: 10.1590/18069657rbcs20180010


Little is known about the groundwater recharge potential of weathered tropical catchments, where increasing water uptake is widespread to meet various water demands. This study aimed to estimate the volume of groundwater recharge of the Doce River Basin, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The BALSEQ model was applied to calculate the water balance over a period of two years (2007-2009). Evapotranspiration, runoff, and potential groundwater recharge (PGR) were calculated, using daily data on rainfall, potential evapotranspiration, and plant-available water. A soil survey was undertaken for all major soils occurring in the basin. Soils samples were used to determine hydraulic conductivity, bulk density, and water content at field capacity and at the permanent wilting point. Vegetation data were obtained from the literature and used to determine the following parameters: canopy interception, crop coefficient, and root depth. The estimated groundwater was spatially predicted using the Random Forests model with digital elevation, vegetation index, pedological, lithological, and climate maps. During the two years, an average of 32 % of rainfall was converted to groundwater. Annually, the percent of rainwater converted to groundwater varied between 27 and 48 % for all soil classes, highlighting the great temporal variability. The spatial prediction showed a volume of approximately 17,484 and 35,410 m3 of rainfall being converted to groundwater for the first and second year, respectively. The BALSEQ model showed a feasibility for the water balance calculation and can be reapplied for updating the groundwater maps of the Doce River Basin. These maps could then be used to guide land use planning programs, with the aim to protect water resources.

Spatial and Temporal Potential Groundwater Recharge: the Case of the Doce River Basin, Brazil