In semi-arid central Tunisia, flood infiltration through the streambed of the ephemeral Zeroud Wadi has long been the principal mechanism of recharging aquifers beneath the plains of the city of Kairouan. In addition to controlling infiltration, a dam built on the Zeroud in 1982 to supply water to Kairouan also protects the city from floods.
From 1988 to 1996 over 70 million cubic meters of dam-held water were mobilized in the form of flood waves over the stream channel to recharge the Kairouan aquifers. Analysis of flow discharges measured at three control stations spanning 40 km of the stream reveals that infiltration is reduced during initial flood-wave spreading and increases gradually before stabilizing. The differential rate of infiltration is thought to be caused by interstitial air initially present.
A conceptual reservoir model based on production and transfer functions with spatial discretization was used to simulate flood-wave propagation and infiltration along the Zeroud. After calibration with six flood events the model produced satisfactory results. Though current data scarcity prevents its validation, the model constitutes a prototype for the evaluation of recharge efficiency and for the prediction of recharge impact on Kairouan aquifers.
Wave propagation, infiltration, air effects, groundwater recharge, reservoir model, semi-arid zone.
Mustafa Besbes, Laboratoire de Modélisation en Hydraulique
Environnement, École Nationale d'Ingénieurs de Tunis, B.P. 37,
Belvédère, 1002 Tunis, TUNISIE