Theory of the generalized chloride mass balance method for recharge estimation in groundwater basins characterised by point and diffuse recharge
Application of the conventional chloride mass balance (CMB) method to point recharge dominant groundwater basins can substantially under-estimate long-term average annual recharge by not accounting for the effects of localized surface water inputs. This is because the conventional CMB method ignores the duality of infiltration and recharge found in karstic systems, where point recharge can be a contributing factor. When point recharge is present in groundwater basins, recharge estimation is unsuccessful using the conventional CMB method with, either unsaturated zone chloride or groundwater chloride. In this paper we describe a generalized CMB that can be applied to groundwater basins with point recharge. Results from this generalized CMB are shown to be comparable with long-term recharge estimates obtained using the watertable fluctuation method, groundwater flow modelling and Darcy flow calculations. The generalized CMB method provides an alternative, reliable long-term recharge estimation method for groundwater basins characterised by both point and diffuse recharge.