A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial > Instructor Materials > 7 - Induced Infiltration to Wells > Infiltration Activity Page

Infiltration Activity Page

Kevin Svitana, The Ohio State University
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Students will work with data to allow them to determine the amount of water discharging from the Aberjona River to groundwater when Wells G & H are pumping. The goal is to determine the amount of water that actually is derived from the river during pumping.

Learning Goals

The goal of this module is to quantify the amount of infiltration from the Aberjona River that occurs during the pumping of Wells G & H. This information is then used to challenge or support the claim that contaminants from beyond the immediate area of the wells were transported to the site by stream water which then infiltrated into groundwater.

Context for Use

This module should be combined with previous modules that deal with groundwater and groundwater pumping so that students may quantify the amount of water that is derived from the Aberjona River. The amount of time spent on this activity will be a function of the overall course content. Classes focusing on geology will want to dedicate two or three sessions to this topic in order to quantify surface water discharged groundwater. In an integrative studies format, this module may not require as extensive instruction, but rather the focus should be making students aware of the potential for discharge to groundwater from the river.

Description and Teaching Materials

The River flow data data contained in the Woburn resources site is sufficient for students to be able to quantify stream water loss resulting from pumping. If the course is intended to be more structured around the geology modules, making measurements of streamflow at a local stream can provide effective in-the-field instruction on difficulties with quantifying streamflow. Flowmeters and basic measuring tools (tape measures and folding rulers) are all that is required to effectively measure streamflow.

Teaching Notes and Tips

A valuable aspect of this module is describing how difficult making accurate stream flow measurements can be. Finding locations on the stream where the channel is bounded by structures (i.e. culverts, bridge trusses, engineered channels, etc.) will help with the increase in accuracy. Making students aware of pool and riffle zones along the stream, and relating how the zones will influence the accuracy of stream flow measurements.


The range of assessment can be dependent on the format of the class. Test related assessment can be effective for those classes where a general knowledge of the infiltration of the module. If in the field activities are part of the module, assessment can incorporate reduction of data and interpretation of results using computers and graphing to evaluate changes in stream flow that could be related to infiltration.

References and Resources

Data from and the USGS investigation are available in the resource collection of this website. additional information regarding string gauging can be found at Quantifying Groundwater Baseflow and Improving Math Skills through a Stream-Discharge Exercise.