The loading efficiency (sometimes called the tidal efficiency) is often neglected when simulating the head response in an aquifer to water level changes in lakes and streams. This is not appropriate when the lake or stream only partially penetrates the aquifer. In such cases, the aquifer extends below the lake or stream and is hydraulically connected through a semiconfining layer of lower permeability. The loading efficiency is the ratio between the instantaneous head response below a lake or stream and the water level change in the lake or stream. In sand and clay, whose particles are not cemented together, the instantaneous head response below a stream or lake is nearly equal to the stage change, and the loading efficiency is close to 1. New semianalytic solutions are presented for the groundwater response to water level changes in shallow lakes and streams that account for the loading efficiency of the aquifer. It is shown that the loading efficiency may have a significant effect on the head response. The effect is larger for larger values of the vertical resistance of the semiconfining layer and larger width of the stream and is much more pronounced in confined aquifers than in unconfined aquifers. The importance of the loading efficiency declines with time and with distance from the lake or stream. Graphs are presented that may be used to determine whether a certain combination of parameters gives a significant difference in the head at the lake shore or river bank when the loading efficiency is taken into account.
- aquifer response
- loading efficiency
- partially penetrating stream
- surface water-groundwater interaction