Surface ground-water flows

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  • About 70% of the world’s population dwells in coastal zones. With the economic and population growth, the shortage in freshwater supply becomes increasingly acute. With surface water more and more depleted and polluted, coastal communities have turned to groundwater to make up for the shortfall. For domestic supply purposes, the percentage of groundwater use has increased to more than 40% on a worldwide basis.

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  • Hydraulic conductivity is the most important property of geological formations as the flow of fluids and movement of solutes depend on it. Among fluids, water and contaminant migration beneath, the ground surface have become critical for water resource development, agriculture, site restoration and waste disposal strategies.

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  • Effective prediction of transport of chemical pollutants through a subsurface groundwater system and associated assessments of risk requires a valid “conceptual model” of the contaminant migration scenario. The classical contaminant conceptual model is one of a near- surface “leachable source zone” where chemical contaminant is leached, i.e. dissolved/solubilised, into water infiltrating through the source (Figure 4.2).

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  • Mining wastes can cause significant ecological destruction. Often, solid mine wastes are dumped into streams, destroying habitat and causing siltation and heavy metal and other contamination. Even when such wastes are stored out of water channels, trace materials can leach into surface waters and infiltrate into local groundwater. Fine- grained tailings can wash into local waterways and degrade streams by covering and filling coarser-grained substrates.

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  • In addition to the creation of more wastewater, urban areas add to poor water quality in a number of ways. The high concentration of impervious surfaces increases runoff from roads and can carry numerous pollutants such as oils, heavy metals, rubber, and other automobile pollution into waterways and streams. The reduction in water percolation into the ground can also affect the quantity and quality of groundwater. Stormwater runoff in urban areas can overwhelm combined stormwater and wastewater treatment systems when high volume flows exceed treatment capacities.

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