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A two-dimensional finite-difference model was developed to simulate groundwater flow in a surficial sand and gravel deposit underlying the nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at Western New York Nuclear Service Center near West Valley, N.Y. The sand and gravel deposit overlies a till plateau that abuts an upland area of siltstone and shale on its west side, and is bounded on the other three sides by deeply incised stream channels that drain to Buttermilk Creek, a tributary to Cattaraugus Creek. Radioactive materials are stored within the reprocessing plant and are also buried within a till deposit at the facility. Tritiated water is stored in a lagoon system near the plant and released under permit to Franks Creek, a tributary to Buttermilk Creek. Groundwater levels predicted by steady-state simulations closely matched those measured in 23 observation wells, with an average error of 0.5 meter. Simulated groundwater discharges to two stream channels and a subsurface drain were within 5% of recorded values. Steady-state simulations used an average annual recharge rate of 46 cm/yr; predicted evapotranspiration loss from the ground was 20 cm/yr. The lateral range in hydraulic conductivity obtained through model calibration was 0.6 to 10 m/day. Model simulations indicated that 33% of the groundwater discharged from the sand and gravel unit (2.6 L/sec) is lost by evapotranspiration, 3% (3.0 L/sec) flows to seepage faces at the periphery of the plateau, 20% (1.6 L/sec) discharges to stream channels that drain a large wetland area near the center of the plateau, and the remaining 8% (0.6 L/sec) discharges to a subsurface french drain and to a wastewater treatment system. Groundwater levels computed by a transient-state simulation of an annual climatic cycle, including seasonal variation in recharge and evapotranspiration, closely matched water levels measured in eight observation wells. The model predicted that the subsurface drain and the stream channel that drains the wetland would intercept most of the recharge originating near the reprocessing plant. (Lantz-PTT)


USGS Water-Resources Investigations Report: 85-4308