Posted: February 18th, 2022

Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions Laboratory


Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions Laboratory

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SCI 207: Our Dependence Upon the Environment

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Groundwater and Surface Water Interactions Laboratory


The interaction between surface water and groundwater is a critical aspect of the hydrological cycle. Their interaction is two-way in that when surface water is plenty, it is stored under the ground and later reemerges when the surface is dry. According to Khan, Khan, Senapathi, Prasanna, and Chung (2019), the interaction is similar to that of the bank. It is like saving when infiltrating into the ground and as a withdrawal when reemerging to the surface. Human activities such as pollution affect groundwater and, subsequently, surface water (Riazi, Türker, and Rakhshandehroo, 2021). Consequently, understanding the interaction between surface and groundwater will help scientists manage the hydrological system chain considering that each system component continuously interacts with other system components. Therefore, understanding the interaction is critical in developing functional water management procedures.


The lab aims to understand how certain activities affect ground and surface water and the subsequent effect on the water available for human consumption. According toStefania et al. (2018), out of the 70% water covering the earth’s surface, only 3% is available and fit for human consumption. It, therefore, implies the crucial need to institute measures to preserve it. The first activity demonstrates the interaction between surface and groundwater. The second activity explores whether point source pollution to surface water affects groundwater, while the third activity illustrates the pollution level differences between ground and surface water through runoff.



Activity 1

The hypothesis for activity one is that water withdrawal from water sources on the surface leads to a reduction in water levels in the reservoir. Reducing the water in the well will lead to the redirection of water that would have penetrated the reservoir towards human consumption.

Activity 2

The hypothesis is that when the water in the reservoir is polluted, it will eventually interact with the groundwater. Water contaminated in the surface finally finds its way into the groundwater supply through the hydrological cycle. The shallow groundwater reservoirs are directly linked to the surface water.

Activity 3

The introduction of a pollutant (fertilizer) in the model will seep through the porous gravel and sand. It will therefore pollute both the groundwater and the pond water.

Materials and Methods

Activity 1 tested the extraction and restoration of water activities and their impact on the climate. The advanced hypothesis depended on how water from a pool would influence water in a reservoir. A clay block was placed in a way that covers a third of a plastic bottle, thereby acting as an impermeable holding rock. The large and small segments symbolized the aquifer and reservoir, respectively. The sand was poured into the area representing the aquifer and spread all around. A tube pipe was cut into two and permeated the sand, meaning the wells. The sand was then poured to ensure that one side of the well was higher while the other side represented a lower ground. Gravel was diagonally added to the aquifer to form another layer. Water was added until the small segment was full. A straw was embedded in one of the wells until it touched the base. It was then removed. The water level on the straw was marked. A dispensable pipette was used to remove all the water in the well. When the water was removed from the well, the straw was inserted, and the water level was marked. After two minutes, water in the well was withdrawn, measured, and recorded.

Activity 2

The sand was drained from the reservoir segment and refilled. A flexible pipe was then inserted into the reservoir to represent an industrial waste pipe. A combination of water and Kool-Aid, acting as polluted water, was then withdrawn using a syringe through the aquarium pipe. The changes were noted ad recorded. Afterward, a straw was entrenched into one of the wells and removed to see if the wastewater had penetrated the well. An image was taken to show the finding. 

Activity 3

The materials utilized in the preceding activities were cleaned and dried. The aquarium pipe was cut into two. Each of the two pieces was inserted into either side of a plastic bottle, representing the wells. The container was then filled with sand so that one side was raised in an inclined manner while the other side was low. Gravel was poured on the sand before a leveled clay bar was placed on the higher side. The clay bar acted as an impermeable layer. A small round openingwas made downhill, and water poured into it to act as a pond. The excess content of the Kool-Help was emptied on the sloppy side to act as fertilizer. Water was then sprinkled on the sloppy side using a foam cup, and the impacts of the fertilizer on the surface and groundwater were noted and recorded. Water was drawn from the two wells. The change in watercolor in the wells was observed and recorded.


Activity 1

The findings from activity one are that in emptying all the water in the wells, the water levels from the aquifer were reducing. After rechecking the water levels using the straw, I saw a substantial reduction in the water levels in the wells. After waiting two minutes and observing the emptied well, I noticed that the estimated water levels had nearly reverted to the same level before the draining. After checking the reservoir, I kept that the water level that was previously above the clay bar had gone down significantly. This demonstrates that the water in the well recharged the water drawn from the reservoir through hydrological interaction.

Activity 2

I added wastewater into the discharge tube in the well. I observed the waste (Kool-Aid and water) infiltrate into the groundwater before progressively moving to the reservoir. I repeated the process, added more wastewater into the well, and made the same observation. While the groundwater was turning red, the water in the reservoir was still clear but formed a pinkish film on the surface. The outcomes upheld the claim that the waste dissolved into the groundwater and then streamed into the reservoir.

Activity 3

In the activity, the sprinkled Kool-Aid penetrated the ground and blended in with water to move down the slope into the pond. The water in the pool turned reddish. After pumping water from the wells using a syringe, I observed that the water contained a mixture of red water and sand. This upheld my hypothesis contamination of the pond water with fertilizer subsequently contaminates the groundwater.


The findings from all three activities accepted/supported my hypothesis. In the first activity, it is observed that withdrawing water from the well decreased water levels in the reservoir. Drawing water from the surface negatively affects the water levels in the hydrological framework. Therefore, there is less groundwater going to the surface water framework. The activity outcomes are an indication that both groundwater and surface water are interlinked. Therefore, the use of groundwater affects both water sources. Surface water in marshes, seas, streams, rivers, and lakes cyclically interacts with groundwater (Riazi et al., 2021). The interaction factor increases between contaminants and water.

In the second activity, the findings accepted my hypothesis. Since polluted water from the reservoir entered the groundwater supply, since both the groundwater and the surface water are interconnected, water from the surface will eventually infiltrate downwards to the groundwater and the reservoir. The infiltration explains how industrial waste contaminates oceans and rivers. In the third activity, introducing fertilizer into the model polluted groundwater and pond water. However, water in the drinking water reservoir was not contaminated. The movement of the water determines where the contaminant moves. The water flowed down the slope and subsequently polluted the pond surface water in the activity. Because of the interactions between surface water and groundwater, the contaminated surface water infiltrates into the ground and degrades groundwater (Stefania et al., 2018). On the other hand, the impermeable layer prevents the polluted water from interacting with water in the drinking water reservoir.

Lessons Learnt

The findings from the lab activities demonstrate an active interaction between groundwater and surface water. The characteristics and nature of surface water straightforwardly affect the status of groundwater. Polluted surface water, either by fertilizers or chemicals, will eventually mix with surface water meant for human consumption. Some groundwater sources, particularly in springs, can be impacted by human activities. Undertakings that pollute surface water conceivably also affect groundwater. The more the water infiltrates from the surface water such as ponds, reservoirs, and lakes, the less it will be accessible later on. Keeping water clean is essential, and there is a need to implement measures that reduce water contamination at each stage of the hydrological cycle.


The main challenge experienced while conducting the activities is assembling the various tools and equipment required to depict a natural environment. While the activity is undertaken in the lab, it is supposed to create a clear picture of the natural habitat to demonstrate the interaction between groundwater and surface water effectively. Any faulty connection is likely to lead to inaccurate findings and incorrect conclusions.


As evidenced through research activities, the interaction between surface water and groundwater enables lab scientists to learn how the groundwater is polluted through surface water contamination. Scientists will comprehend the dynamism involved, particularly in comparison to non-point source and point source and contamination. Consequently, they can develop relevant approaches and methodologies to prevent water pollution. Scientists canwork with partners in the environment and conservation sector to create practical guidelines to preserve water resources in the world. Scientists understanding the interaction between various hydrological cycle components will enable them to come up with suitable and customized intervention mechanisms relating to each element.



Khan, H. H., Khan, A., Senapathi, V., Prasanna, M. V., & Chung, S. Y. (2019). Groundwater and surface water interaction. GIS and Geostatistical Techniques for Groundwater Science. Elsevier, 197-207.

Riazi, A., Türker, U., & Rakhshandehroo, G. R. (2021). The impact of diurnal surface water fluctuations on groundwater diffusion: assessment through Fick’s second law. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-9.

Stefania, G. A., Rotiroti, M., Fumagalli, L., Simonetto, F., Capodaglio, P., Zanotti, C., & Bonomi, T. (2018). Modeling groundwater/surface-water interactions in an Alpine valley (the Aosta Plain, NW Italy): the effect of groundwater abstraction on surface-water resources. Hydrogeology Journal26(1), 147-162.


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