Modeling Earth Systems and Environment

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 1361–1369 | Cite as

Groundwater recharge modelling in a large scale basin: an example using the SWAT hydrologic model

  • Charles Gyamfi
  • Julius Musyoka Ndambuki
  • Geophrey Kwame Anornu
  • Gislar Edgar Kifanyi
Original Article


Groundwater constitutes an essential resource that augments surface water resources in meeting the water supply needs of man and the ecosystem. Most importantly in arid and semi-arid environments where rainfall patterns are erratic, groundwater resources are often the preferred source of water. This causes enormous pressure on the resource leading to diminishing groundwater resources. Land use changes also impact on groundwater resources through alterations in the hydrologic regime. It is imperative therefore to evaluate groundwater recharge dynamics under changing land uses to provide for a better resource planning and allocation. We present in this study, an investigation into groundwater recharge dynamics of the Olifants Basin, a water stressed basin in Southern Africa over the past decade with considerations to land use changes. Three land use change scenarios were developed to simulate the groundwater recharge of the basin within the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) environment. The SWAT model was calibrated (1988–2001) and validated (2002–2013) with good model performance statistics; NSE, R2, PBIAS, RSR of 0.88, 0.89, −11.49%, 0.34 and 0.67, 0.78, −20.69%, 0.57 respectively for calibration and validation stages. Findings indicate groundwater recharge declined by 10.37 mm (30.3%) and 2.34 mm (9.82%) during the periods 2000–2007 and 2007–2013 respectively. The decline in groundwater recharge was linked to the changes in urban (9.2%), agriculture (6.1%), rangelands (−16.8%) during the period 2000–2007 and urban (1.3%), agricultural (14%), rangelands (−14.8%) during 2007–2013. The SWAT model reveals it capabilities as a decision support tool (DST) in groundwater recharge assessment for large scale basins.


Groundwater recharge Land use Olifants Basin SWAT 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringTshwane University of TechnologyPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringHo Technical UniversityHoGhana
  3. 3.Department of Civil EngineeringKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana

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