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Ground Water Contamination A High School Level Presentation on How We Can Clean Up After Ourselves Presented by: Catherine Charnawskas and Margaret Milligan.

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Presentation on theme: "Ground Water Contamination A High School Level Presentation on How We Can Clean Up After Ourselves Presented by: Catherine Charnawskas and Margaret Milligan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ground Water Contamination A High School Level Presentation on How We Can Clean Up After Ourselves Presented by: Catherine Charnawskas and Margaret Milligan Geospheres November 17, 2004 Aquifers found in the continental US

2 Ground Water Basics

3 What is Ground Water? An Aquifer is a formation, a group of formations, or part of a formation that contains sufficient saturated permeable material to yield significant quantities of water to wells or springs. Ground water is water that is found anywhere from close to the earth’s surface (such as a marsh) to hundreds of feet below the surface. Ground water is stored and moves through aquifers. The Silurian – Devonian Aquifer which includes Detroit

4 How does Ground Water form? Ground water is replenished by precipitation – rain fall or snow melt The unsaturated zone contains little water, but may become saturated but will dry out again after a period of little precipitation. When the biological needs of the unsaturated zone are fulfilled, excess water can infiltrate the saturated zone. This water will travel through the aquifer towards streams, springs, or wells where water is being withdrawn.

5 Replenishment of Aquifers Natural replenishment is a very slow process because the water must move through the unsaturated zone and the aquifer. Aquifers can also be recharged artificially. This can be done in two ways. -Spread water over pits, furrows, or ditches. Construct small dams in stream channels to detain runoff to allow it to infiltrate the aquifer. -Construct recharge wells to inject water directly into the aquifer. Artificial recharge of an aquifer

6 How much can an Aquifer hold? The amount of water held by an aquifer is dependant on the porosity of the rock. Porosity is the measure of pore size between the grains of the rock Principal aquifers by rock type If pores are connected, water can flow through the spaces and the rock is said to be permeable. Water can also move through more solid rocks such as granite if there are cracks or fissures present.

7 Quality of Ground Water

8 Sources of Contamination Types of ground water contamination: - Agricultural - Residential - Industrial - Natural

9 Types of Contamination Sources of ground water contamination Animal burial areas, feedlots, chemical storage or usage areas, irrigation sites, manure storage and spreading. Agricultural Contamination Residential Contamination Sources of ground water contamination Fuel oil, household chemicals, lawn and garden chemicals, septic systems, sewer lines, pools, cars products.

10 Types of Contamination Industrial Contamination Natural Contamination Sources of ground water contamination Improper waste disposal, cesspools or dry holes, underground storage tanks, mining. Sources of ground water contamination Depends on the type of geological material that the water is flowing through. The water can pick up magnesium, arsenic, chloride, iron, lead, mercury, sulfate, or zinc to name a few.

11 Natural purification of groundwater Pollution of groundwater is a serious problem especially where aquifers provide a large part of the water supply. Problem: Sewage Sewage contaminated with bacteria can enter the groundwater system can be naturally filtered if the correct soil composition is present. Extremely permeable aquifers do not allow enough time for purification to occur. Aquifers made of sand or permeable sandstone. Since the pores are large enough to allow water movement, but the movement is slow enough to allow purification. E. coli

12 Prevention of Contamination The best way to clean groundwater is to prevent the contamination in the first place. Options to restore a contaminated aquifer -Inground treatment -Aboveground treatment -Remove or Isolate contaminated area -Abandon the supply -Ignore the problem

13 Inground Treatment One possibility to treat polluted ground water is to isolate the water supply. There are several possible/proposed methods in order to do this -Constructing vertical barriers that prevent the flow of clean ground water into the site. Examples include Slurry walls, grout curtains, or even biobarriers. The Ecosystem Restoration website gives a full run down of what each of these types of prevention are.Ecosystem Restoration Many sites of groundwater pollution qualify for Superfund money that was created in 1980 to clean up hazardous waste sites that pose an unacceptable risk to human or ecological health. Superfund site at Silver Bow Creek. Water pollution was caused by metal mining in the area.

14 Above Ground Treatment Many industries are recognizing the importance of cleaning water before releasing the water back into the groundwater supply. -Ford Motor Company is using plants and trees to help clean up hydrocarbon soil contamination that could potentially affect the groundwater supply. -Microorganisms (such as Geobacter sulferreducens) are currently being studying to test their effectiveness to clean up groundwater that has been contaminated by uranium from underground holding areas. These plants can degrade hydrocarbons in the root zone. This is known as phytoremediation. Underground uranium holding facility.

15 Resources toremediation.html oms.org/muwww/fulltext/repind46/restora/restora.html Essentials of Geology 7 th Edition, Lutgens and Tarbuck Physical Geogrpahy 6 th Edition, McKnight


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