Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)

July 2021

Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Hydrologic Sciences



Major Advisor

Alejandro Flores, Ph.D.


Kendra Kaiser, Ph.D.


Qifei Nui, Ph.D.


Sustainable water resource management is a crucial national and global issue (Currell et al., 2012). In arid areas, groundwater is often the major source of water or at least a crucial supplement to other freshwater resources for agriculture, industry and domestic consumption (Vrba and Renaud, 2016). The complexity associated with groundwater-surface water interactions creates uncertainty about water resource sustainability in semi-arid environments, especially with urbanization and population growth. Flood irrigation in the early 1900s increased the shallow groundwater table in the Treasure Valley (TV), but with increasing irrigation efficiencies, they have been declining since the 1960s with a mean decline rate of about 2.9-3.9x10^-9 (m/s) (Contor et al., 2011). Quantifying how much surface water is being exchanged with the shallow groundwater table through canals in the TV is necessary for gaining a better understanding of groundwater-surface water interactions in this heavily managed system. This knowledge would help evaluate alternative management options for achieving sustainable management of existing water resources.

The key objectives of this project are to determine the seepage rate through some canal reaches in the TV, evaluate the integration of the gain and loss method, remote sensing, GIS, hydrogeophysical simulation, and direct current (DC) resistivity geophysical methods for water resource management. We hypothesize that the underlying lithology and size of canals affect the magnitude of the seepage rate. Flow measurements were collected weekly between July and August 2020 in canal reaches representing different sizes and lithological units to determine the seepage rate using the reach gain/loss method. Canal variability and measurement uncertainty were included in seepage estimation for the entire TV using 3 alternative scaling approaches. DC resistivity was used as a complementary method to monitor the seepage effect on the shallow GW aquifer over 2 months. This research evaluates to what extent canal size and its underlying lithology affects the seepage rate, and how the integration of methods may provide additional insight into groundwater exchange-surface water.