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Three-Dimensional Finite-Difference Model of Ground-Water System Underlying the Muskegon County Wastewater Disposal System, Michigan

By William B. Fleck and Michael G. McDonald


Prepared in cooperation with the Geological Survey Division, Michigan Department of Natural Resources

The spray irrigation system used by Muskegon County for wastewater treatment is the largest of its kind in the United States. It has 2200 hectares of irrigated farm land, 688 hectares of treatment lagoons, and 105 kilometers of drainage tile. The system has a design capacity of 1.8 cubic meters of wastewater per second. A three-dimensional finite-difference model was developed to study the effect of the disposal operation on ground-water conditions. Model calculations show that the water table at and adjacent to most of the wastewater site is lower as a result of the operation of the system to date. However, along the northwest boundary of the site, where irrigated land was not undertiled, the water table is 1 to 2 meters higher than it would be under natural conditions. Predictive simulations indicate that, even if the drainage tiles lost 75 percent of their effectiveness, the impact of disposal operations on ground-water levels would be negligible outside of the wastewater site.

Fleck, W.B., and McDonald, M.G., 1978, Three-dimensional finite-difference model of ground-water system underlying the Muskegon County wastewater disposal system, Michigan: U.S. Geological Survey Journal of Research, v. 6, no. 3, p. 307-318.

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