Hydrologic factors pertinent to ground‐water contamination




Predictions of where and how a fluid waste may travel from disposal site to the water table require detailed information on the physical characteristics, location, and extent of all pervious and impervious materials in the unsaturated zone. Principles concerning the flow system in the unsaturated zone indicate the importance of choice of disposal technique in predicting the time required for the fluid waste to traverse the distance to the water table. With appropriate data on the location, extent, and physical properties of water‐bearing materials and on the boundaries of the saturated zone flow system, it is possible to analyze the relative merits of a variety of waste disposal techniques and to describe the probable consequences of each. Environments of consolidated rocks, such as granites, sandstones, and limestones, pose problems in addition to those related to unconsolidated or granular porous media in defining the fluid‐flow regimes that involve joint patterns, fracture patterns, solutional openings, and the rock structure. The consequences of ground‐water contamination can be just as damaging to water users as the pollution of surface streams. In fact it can be argued that the consequences are far more damaging because they persist over much longer periods of time after the contaminating source has been eliminated. It would appear prudent, therefore, to guard against contamination of the ground‐water resource in the first instance, rather than to engage in long expensive rehabilitation measures after the damage has been done. In 1960 Graham Walton presented data concerning contamination, by sewage or other man‐made wastes, of surface and underground waters. The circumstances attending the reported incidents of contamination, especially those involving ground‐water supplies, have aided materially in the choice of a few principles and ideas that will identify the role of some significant hydrologic factors in the underground movement of fluid wastes. Walton's discussion of ground‐water contamination refers often to physical settings into which fluid wastes are discharged at or near the land surface into cesspools, tile‐drain fields, and holding ponds. Furthermore, most reported instances of ground‐water contamination have taken place in relatively humid. 

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Hydrologic factors pertinent to ground‐water contamination
Series title Groundwater
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1964.tb01739.x
Volume 2
Issue 1
Year Published 1964
Language English
Publisher NGWA The Groundwater Association
Description 8 p.
First page 5
Last page 12
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