An approach to model discrimination and network design for evaluation of groundwater contamination risk is proposed and demonstrated by application to a site in a glaciofluvial aquifer in Sweden. The approach consists of first hypothesizing alternative conceptual models of hydrogeology at the site on the basis of both quantitative data and qualitative information. The conceptual models are then expressed as two-dimensional numerical models of groundwater flow and solute transport, and model attributes controlling risk to the water supply are determined by simulation. Model predictions of response to a specific field test are made with each model that affects risk. Regions for effective measurement networks are then identified. Effective networks are those that capture sufficient information to determine which of the hypothesized models best describes the system with a minimum of measurement points. For the example site in Sweden, the network is designed such that important system parameters may be accurately estimated at the same time as model discrimination is carried out. The site in Vansbro, Sweden, consists of a water-supply well in an esker separated (by 300m) from a wood preservation and treatment area on the esker flank by only a narrow inlet of a bordering stream. Application of the above-described risk analysis shows that, of all the hydrologic controls and parameters in the groundwater system, the only factor that controls the potential migration of wood-treatment contaminants to the well is whether the inlet's bed is pervious, creating a hydraulic barrier to lateral contaminant transport. Furthermore, the analysis localizes an area near the end of the inlet wherein the most effective measurements of drawdown would be made to discriminate between a permeable and impermeable bed. The location of this optimal area is not obvious prior to application of the above methodology.
Additional publication details
A simulation-based approach for designing effective field-sampling programs to evaluate contamination risk of groundwater supplies