Quantitative risk assessment of groundwater quality utilizing GIS technology and coupled groundwater models
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The thesis presents a two-dimensional Risk Assessment Method (RAM) where the assessment of risk to the groundwater resources incorporates both the quantification of the probability of the occurrence of contaminant source terms, as well as the assessment of the resultant impacts. The approach emphasizes the need for a greater dependency on the potential pollution sources, rather than the traditional approach where assessment is based mainly on the intrinsic geo-hydrologic parameters. The risk is calculated using Monte Carlo simulation methods whereby random pollution events were generated to the same distribution as historically occurring events or a priori potential probability distribution. Integrated mathematical models then simulate contaminant concentrations at the predefined monitoring points within the aquifer. The spatial and temporal distributions of the concentrations were calculated from repeated realisations, and the number of times when a user defined concentration magnitude was exceeded is quantified as a risk. The method was setup by integrating MODFLOW-2000, MT3DMS and a FORTRAN coded risk model, and automated, using a DOS batch processing file. GIS software was employed in producing the input files and for the presentation of the results. The functionalities of the method, as well as its sensitivities to the model grid sizes, contaminant loading rates, length of stress periods, and the historical frequencies of occurrence of pollution events were evaluated using hypothetical scenarios and a case study. Chloride-related pollution sources were compiled and used as indicative potential contaminant sources for the case study. At any active model cell, if a random generated number is less than the probability of pollution occurrence, then the risk model will generate synthetic contaminant source term as an input into the transport model. The results of the applications of the method are presented in the form of tables, graphs and spatial maps. Varying the model grid sizes indicates no significant effects on the simulated groundwater head. The simulated frequency of daily occurrence of pollution incidents is also independent of the model dimensions. However, the simulated total contaminant mass generated within the aquifer, and the associated volumetric numerical error appear to increase with the increasing grid sizes. Also, the migration of contaminant plume advances faster with the coarse grid sizes as compared to the finer grid sizes. The number of daily contaminant source terms generated and consequently the total mass of contaminant within the aquifer increases in a non linear proportion to the increasing frequency of occurrence of pollution events. The risk of pollution from a number of sources all occurring by chance together was evaluated, and quantitatively presented as risk maps. This capability to combine the risk to a groundwater feature from numerous potential sources of pollution proved to be a great asset to the method, and a large benefit over the contemporary risk and vulnerability methods.