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Lecture Topic: Hydrogeology and Practical Problems in Hydrogeology

Tables 17.2**
Figures 17.1 again, 17.2 again (or some image of the water cycle), 17.9, 17.10**, 17.11,
17.12, 17.14, 17.15, 17.23
Key Terms aquiclude, aquifer, artesian flow, discharge, groundwater, groundwater table,
hydraulic gradient, hydrologic cycle, infiltration, permeability, potable, recharge,
saturated zone, unsaturated zone
Hydrologic Cycle describes the movement of water.

Infiltration replenishes the groundwater. The infiltrating water recharges the


groundwater.
Porosity is the pore space that may hold fluid. There is more porosity in a well sorted
sand than in a poorly sorted sand. The pores are not as numerous or as well connected in
a cemented sandstone.

The water table is the boundary between the unsaturated zone typical of soils and shallow
bedrock, and the saturated zone, typical of deeper formations.
Permeability the ability of a formation (soil, sediments, or rock) to allow fluids to pass
through pores or cracks.
Aquifer a permeable formation (rock, sediments, or soil) that stores and transmits
groundwater in sufficient quantity to supply wells.
The shape of the water table mimics the topography. In general, water flows downhill,
or from high groundwater elevation to low groundwater elevation. The location of the
water table can change with season.

There is a balance between water added as recharge from precipitation and water lost by
discharge from wells, springs, and streams plus evaporation. The result may be seasonal
variations in water table levels.
During droughts, wells can go dry.
The geology of the subsurface can be complex. Differences in permeability can cause
groundwater to perch above the regional water table.

Layers of low permeability can confine and aquifer. In a confined aquifer, the water can
be under pressure.

All sources of drinking water contain some naturally occurring dissolved chemicals.
Water is a good solvent, rocks and minerals dissolve to some extent in water, human
activities can introduce undesirable contaminants to water supplies.
Contaminants in Water: most contaminants of concern are related to human activities of
agriculture, industry, transportation, and waste disposal. There are relatively few natural
geological sources of contaminants.
Waste disposal lagoons, tanks, landfills, and injection wells are commonly employed in
industry. Common waste disposal practices that impact groundwater quality are septic
and sewage disposal (human waste) and landfills (municipal waste).
Fuel held in underground storage tanks that eventually leak has led to widespread
contamination of groundwater by gasoline.
All rocks are named using two important characteristics:
Intrusive and extrusive nature
The size and color of their mineral constituents
Texture and mineral composition
Age and location
Typically, we pump out the groundwater that we need. N the case of excessive
withdrawal, the water table can be lowered. The water table can be lowered over a whole
region if pumping and withdrawal outpace recharge by rainfall and infiltration.
Cone of depression
On average, we use about 100 gallons of drinking water per person per day.

Domestic water use water for household purposes, such as drinking, food preparation,
bathing and handwashing, washing clothes and dishes, and flushing toilets.
Septic systems are for homes that are not connected to a city sewer system Septic
systems are designed to treat household wastewater using natural processes. An
improperly designed, located, constructed, or maintained septic system can leak bacteria,
viruses, household chemicals, and other contaminants into the groundwater.
The volume of water that flows into an average septic tank is on the order of 100
gallons per day per person.
Typical effluent characteristics total suspended solids, biodegradable organics,
surfactants (soaps & detergents), bacteria, viruses, nutrients (nitrogen &
phosphorous)
Septic tanks accept all liquid household waste. Solids settle to a sludge at the
bottom. Microbial activity biodegrades the organic solids. Soaps, fats, and grease
rise to form a scrum at the top. Gas is vented. Relatively clear liquid, called
effluent, is sent via a distribution box to a septic field or drain field.

The drain field (also called leach field) is made by laying out perforated pipes in gravel-
lined trenches from which the effluent will seep slowly into the underlying soil. The
drain field is where the wastewater enters the soil for treatment by natural processes.

The effluent is released to the unsaturated soil zone. If solid particles of organic waste
arent retained in the septic tank, they can enter the distribution system and clog the
perforated pipes or the pores in the soil. If the soil cannot accept the effluent at an
adequate rate, the wastewater backs up into the household plumbing or leaks out to the
soil surface.
As the effluent moves through the soil, solids and bacteria are filtered, virus are
inactivated, ammonia is oxidized, nitrate is taken up in plant growth, and
phosphorous is retained in the soil.
If the drain field is working correctly, by the time the effluent reaches the
groundwater, there is not a significant concern about harming water quality.
The longer the effluent is within a well aerated soil, the more complete the
microbial and chemical reactions are. The greatest reduction in effluent
concentrations is obtained when the unsaturated depth of the soil is greatest.
If the effluent reaches an impermeable layer at a shallow depth, the desired treatment of
the effluent may not be achieved. Effluent volume may be great enough to fully saturate
the porous soil overlying the impermeable layer. If the water mounds up enough, effluent
may seep out at the land surface.
Common manners of failure:
Soil is clogged with waste particles
Wastewater moves too quickly through the soil
Steps to prevent failures:
Pump the tank at least every 2-3 years
Conserve water to limit the amount entering the system
Dont put toxic substances like oil, paint, and pesticides down the drain
Limit the concentration of septic systems in a neighborhood
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products are present in many water supplies:
Prescription and over the counter drugs
Veterinary drugs
Fragrances
Cosmetics
Sunscreen products