Final report for the IAEA urban aquifers RCA : determining the effects of storm water infiltration on groundwater quality in an urban fractured rock aquifer, Auckland, New Zealand

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Rosen, M.R.; Hong, Y.S.; Sheppard, D.S.; Roberts, K.; Viljevac, Z.; Smail, A.; Reeves, R.R. 2000 Final report for the IAEA urban aquifers RCA : determining the effects of storm water infiltration on groundwater quality in an urban fractured rock aquifer, Auckland, New Zealand. Lower Hutt: Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences. Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences science report 2000/20 54 p.

Abstract: Disposal of storm water in the Mt Eden-Mt Albert area of Auckland, New Zealand, is via ''soak holes'' drilled directly into the top of the fractured basalt. These soak holes receive storm water and sediment runoff from city streets throughout Mt Eden. Although this method of disposal has been used for at least 60 years, its sustainability with respect to groundwater quality has not been addressed. This study aimed to determine the impact of soakage on the chemical and isotopic composition of the groundwater. In addition, sediments captured by the soak holes were analysed to determine their effectiveness at trapping contaminants. Groundwater samples were collected between August 1998 and August 1999. Three sampling trips were carried out after rainfall events in October 1998, April 1999 and August 1999. Samples were analysed for major and trace components, including nutrients, dissolved and total heavy metals (As, Cr, Cu, Zn, Pb, Cd, and Ni), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and stable and radiogenic isotopes. Cores of sediment collected in the soak holes were analysed for major components, total and leachable heavy metals, and PAHs to determine the ability of the sediments to adsorp contaminants. In summary, the Mt Eden aquifer system shows the effect of storm water infiltration rapidly after a rainfall event in some parts of the aquifer. Water quality has been effected in some areas, but in general the water quality is quite good considering the quantity of storm water discharge that has occurred in the area for the past 60 years. The relatively high quality of the water in the wells monitored may be attributed to the ability of the accumulated sediment in the soak holes and the aquifer fractures to trap contaminants. Further research is needed to determine if continued use of the groundwater system as a conduit for storm water infiltration will lead to clogging of the fractures in the aquifer and/or transport of particulates and colloids into the aquifer and a gradual deterioration in groundwater quality. (auth/EB)