An integrated model for assessing the risk of TCE groundwater contamination to human receptors and surface water ecosystems

Ursula S. McKnight, S.G. Funder, J.J. Rasmussen, M. Finkel, Philip John Binning, Poul Løgstrup Bjerg

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Abstract

The practical implementation of the European Water Framework Directive has resulted in an increased focus on the hyporheic zone. In this paper, an integrated model was developed for evaluating the impact of point sources in groundwater on human health and surface water ecosystems. This was accomplished by coupling the system dynamics-based decision support system CARO-PLUS to the aquatic ecosystem model AQUATOX using an analytical volatilization model for the stream. The model was applied to a case study where a TCE contaminated groundwater plume is discharging to a stream. The TCE source will not be depleted for many decades, however measured and predicted TCE concentrations in surface water were found to be below human health risk management targets. Volatilization rapidly attenuates TCE concentrations in surface water. Thus, only a 300 m stream reach fails to meet surface water quality criteria. An ecological risk assessment found that the TCE contamination did not impact the stream ecosystem. Uncertainty assessment revealed hydraulic conductivity to be the most important site-specific parameter. These results indicate that contaminant plumes with μgL-1 concentrations of TCE entering surface water systems may not pose a significant risk.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Engineering
Volume36
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1126-1137
ISSN0925-8574
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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