Groundwater-Related Risk Assessment

  • Frank A. Swartjes
  • Juan Grima


Groundwater includes the pore water in the water-unsaturated upper soil layer as well as water usually referred to as groundwater, that is, the water in the water-saturated zone. Groundwater contains contaminants of natural and anthropogenic origin. It is generally recognised by all segments of society that fresh water is an immensely important resource. From a Risk Assessment point of view, groundwater needs to be approached from two different perspectives, namely, as an important protection target and as a means of transport (a pathway) for contaminants. For human beings the primary use for groundwater is as a source of drinking water. Although often underestimated, the water-saturated deeper soil layer is also a habitat for many organisms. For decades, there has been an on-going and interesting discussion concerning the intrinsic value of groundwater, sometimes including spiritual and even supernatural or religious arguments. Generally speaking, the transport of water and contaminants is much faster in the groundwater zone than in the water-unsaturated upper soil layer. Specific attention will be given in this chapter to the impact that a revised quantitative groundwater regime, the presence of heterogeneous soils or aquifers, surface water bodies, anthropogenic subsurface processes and structures, and heterogeneous soils and aquifers all have on groundwater quality. Additional attention will be paid to sustainable protection of groundwater resources, Conceptual Models, mathematical (numerical) models, Risk Management (including Natural Attenuation and regional approaches), sampling and monitoring, lysimeters and column experiments, the impact of climate change, mingling groundwater plumes, risk perception and communication, and the European Water Framework Directive.


Soil Layer Pore Water Groundwater Flow Groundwater Quality Contaminant Transport 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson J (2003) The environmental benefits of water recycling and reuse. Water Sci Technol: Water Supply 3(4):1–10Google Scholar
  2. Baynes S (2004) Water efficient toilets: a canadian perspective. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (electronic version). Retrieved 16 Oct 2009Google Scholar
  3. Bruell CJ, Inyang HI (2000) The fundamentals of remediation in rock masses, chapter 1. In: Inyang HI, Bruell CJ (eds) Remediation in rock masses. ASCE, pp 1–11Google Scholar
  4. Burke JJ, Moench MH (2000) Groundwater and society: resources, tensions and opportunities. United Nations Publication ST/ESA/205, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Celico F, Musilli I, Naclerio G (2004) The impacts of pasture- and manure-spreading on microbial groundwater quality in carbonate aquifers. Environ Geol 46(2):233–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chang CM, Wang MK, Chang TW, Lin C, Chen YR (2001) Transport modeling of copper and cadmium with linear and nonlinear retardation factors. Chemosphere 43(8):1133–1139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chisala BN, Lerner DN (2008) Sewage risks to urban groundwater. Science Report SC030134, Environment Agency, Bristol. 36 pp. ISBN 978-1-84432-820-8Google Scholar
  8. Community Development Services Department, County of Humboldt (2009) Retrieved 24 Dec 2009
  9. Darcy HPG (1856) The public fountains in the city of Dijon (in French). Dalmont, ParisGoogle Scholar
  10. Deeb RA, Chu K-H, Shih T, Linder S, Suffet I, Kavanaugh MC, Alvarez-Cohen L (2003) MTBE and other oxygenates: environmental sources, analysis, occurrence, and treatment. Environ Eng Sci 20(5):433–447CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De la Orden Gómez JA (2006) The evaluation of the artificial recharge through wells with horizontal galleries in the aquifer Plana de Gandía-Denia, Municipalities of Vergel and Els Poblets (Alicante) (in Spanish). Internal Report of the Specific Agreement IGME-Diputación de AlicanteGoogle Scholar
  12. Environment Agency (2009) Underground, under threat, groundwater protection: policy and practice, part 1 – overviewGoogle Scholar
  13. Eurogeosurveys (2009) Retrieved 30 Dec 2009
  14. European Commission (2008) Groundwater protection in Europe, the new groundwater directive – consolidating the EU regulatory framework, a publication of the European CommunitiesGoogle Scholar
  15. Estrela T, Menendez M, Dimas M (2001) Sustainable water use in Europe. Part 3. Extreme hydrological events: floods and droughts. Environmental issue report no. 21, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  16. Ezsoftech (2009) Retrieved 30 Dec 2009
  17. Field MS, Pinsky PF (2000) A two-region nonequilibrium model for solute transport in solution conduits in karstic aquifers. J Contamin Hydrol 44(3–4):329–351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Foster SSD, Chilton PJ (2003) Groundwater: the processes and global significance of aquifer degradation. Phil Trans R Soc Lond B 358:1957–1972. doi:10.1098/rstb.2003.1380Google Scholar
  19. Grima J, Chacon E, Ballesteros B, Rodríguez R, Mejia JA (2009) Communication of groundwater realities based on assessment and monitoring data. Wiley, The Atrium, Southern Gate, Chichester, PO19 8SQ, EnglandGoogle Scholar
  20. Kale SP, Puetz T, Burauel P, Ophoff H, Fuehr F (2001) Long term fate of 14C-PCBs and 14C-PAHs in lysimeter soil. J Nucl Agric Biol 30(2):74–82Google Scholar
  21. Kelsh MA, Buffler PA, Daaboul JJ, Rutherford GW, Lau EC, Barnard JC, Exuzides AK, Madl AK, Palmer LG, Lorey FW (2003) Primary congenital hypothyroidism, newborn thyroid function, and environmental perchlorate exposure among residents of a Southern California community. J Occup Environ Med 45(10):1116–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kolb A, Püttmann W (2006) Comparison of MTBE concentrations in groundwater of urban and nonurban areas in Germany. Water Res 40(9):3551–3558CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Leijnse A, Hassanizadeh SM (1994) Model definition and model validation. Adv Water Res 17(33):197–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lerner DN (2002) Identifying and quantifying urban recharge: a review. Hydrogeol J 10(1):143–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lerner DN, Tellam JH (1992) The protection of urban groundwater from pollution. J Inst Water Environ Manage 6(1):28–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. López-Geta JA, Fornés JM, Ramos G, Villarroya F (2006) Groundwater. A natural underground resource. Environmental education, IGME, UNESCO and Fundación Marcelino Botín, Spain, Madrid. ISBN: 84-7840-618-2Google Scholar
  27. Lovanh N, Zhang Y-K, Heathcote RC, Alvarez PJJ (2000) Guidelines to determine site-specific parameters for modeling the fate and transport of monoaromatic hydrocarbons in groundwater. Report of the University of Iowa, October, 2000Google Scholar
  28. MacQuarrie KTB, Mayer KU (2005) Reactive transport modeling in fractured rock: a state-of-the-science review. Earth-Sci Rev 72:189–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mandocdoc MC, Primo David C (2008) Dieldrin contamination of the groundwater in a former US military base (Clark air base, Philippines, CLEAN – SOIL). Air, Water 36(10–11):870–874CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mayer KU, Frind EO, Blowes DW (2002) Multicomponent reactive transport modeling in variably saturated porous media using a generalized formulation for kinetically controlled reactions. Water Resour Res 38(9):1174CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mayes MA, Jardine PM, Larsen IL, Brooks SC, Fendorf SE (2000) Multispecies transport of metal–EDTA complexes and chromate through undisturbed columns of weathered fractured saprolite. J Contamin Hydrol 45(3–4):243–265CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. McCullough J, Hazen TC, Benson SM, Metting FB, Palmisano AC (1999) Bioremediation of metals and radionucleids. What it is and how it works. Office of biological and environmental research of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. NABIR primer LBNL-42595. Available at Retrieved 30 Dec 2009
  33. Meinrath G, May PM (2002) Thermodynamic prediction in the mine water environment. Mine Water Environ 21:24–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Moran MJ, Lapham WW, Rowe BL, Zogorski JS (2007) Volatile organic compounds in ground water from rural private wells, 1986 to 1999. J Am Water Resou Assoc 40(5):1141–1157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Optimum Population Trust (OPT) (2009) Retrieved 9 Nov 2009
  36. Otte PF, Zijp MC, Lijzen JPA, Swartjes FA, Verschoor AJ (2007) A tiered approach to assess risk due to contaminant migration in groundwater. RIVM report 711701056/2007. RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  37. Quevauviller P (2006) Agreement on new EU groundwater directive. J Soils Sediments 6(4):254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rahman MM, Chowdhury UK, Mukherjee SC, Mondal BK, Paul K, Lodh D, Biswas BK, Chanda CR, Basu GK, Saha KC, Roy S, Das R, Palit SK, Quamruzzaman Q, Chakrabort D (2001) Chronic arsenic toxicity in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India – a review and commentary. Clin Toxicol 39(7):683–700. doi:10.1081/CLT-100108509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Santos A, Alonso E, Callejón M, Jiménez JC (2002) Distribution of Zn, Cd, Pb and Cu metals in groundwater of the Guadiamar river basin. Water Air Soil Pollut 134(104):273–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schelwald-van der Kley AJM, Reijerker L (2009) Water: A way of life. Taylor and Francis, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  41. Simmons CT, Fenstemaker TR, Sharp JM Jr (2001) Variable-density groundwater flow and solute transport in heterogeneous porous media: approaches, resolutions and future challenges. J Contamin Hydrol 52(1–4):245–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Swartjes F, Sanders R, Tiktak A, Van der Linden T (1993) Modelling of leaching and accumulation of pesticides: module selection by sensitivity analysis. In: Del Re AAM, Capri E, Evans SP, Natali P, Trevisan M (eds.) Proceedings IX simposium pesticide chemistry: mobility and degradation of xenobiotics, pp 167–181Google Scholar
  43. Tatalovich ME, Lee YKY, Chrysikopoulos VC (2000) Modeling the transport of contaminants originating from the dissolution of DNAPL pools in aquifers in the presence of dissolved humic substances. Transport Porous Media 38:93–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Tomer MD, Burkart MR (2003) Long-term effects of nitrogen fertilizer use on ground water nitrate in two small watersheds. J Environ Qual 32:2158–2171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. UK Groundwater Forum (2009) Retrieved 30 Dec 2009
  46. United Nations (1987) Report of the world commission on environment and development, A/RES/42/187, 96th plenary meeting, 11 December 1987Google Scholar
  47. US EPA (2008) U.S. EPA’s 2008 report on the environment (final report), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-07/045F (NTIS PB2008-112484)Google Scholar
  48. US Geological Survey (2009) Retrieved 10 Sep 2009
  49. Vrba J, Lipponen A (eds) (2007) Groundwater resource sustainability indicators. Groundwater indicators working group, UNESCO, IAEA, IHA, IHP – Viseries on groundwater No. 14.Google Scholar
  50. Zektser IS, Everet LG (eds) (2004) Groundwater resources of the world and their use. UNESCO. IHP-VI Series on Groundwater No. 6Google Scholar
  51. Zheng C, Gorelick SM (2005) Analysis of solute transport in flow fields influenced by preferential flowpaths at the decimeter scale. Ground Water 41(2):142–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)BilthovenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Spanish Geological Survey (IGME)ValenciaSpain

Personalised recommendations