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Integrated methods for urban groundwater management considering subsurface heterogeneity

EPTING J., HUGGENBERGER P., REGLI C., SPOLJARIC N., KIRCHHOFER R. (2008)

Quantitative Information Fusion for Hydrological Sciences. Cai X., Yeh T.-C. J. (Eds.). Series: Studies in Computational Intelligence, Vol 79, 183-218, Springer Verlag

Open space in urban areas is very rare and new infrastructure is increasingly constructed in the subsurface. These constructions may temporarily affect urban groundwater systems during construction and permanently after completion. As regards these impacts together with ancient contaminated industrial sites, particular focus was placed on determining the data required to understand changes affecting groundwater flow and transport. The extended knowledge of groundwater flow regimes could lead to reducing and minimizing, as far as possible, the negative impacts throughout the construction phases, and to developing sustainable groundwater use and management tools.

The consideration of subsurface heterogeneity is often based on pumping tests, leading to a characteristically large-scale zoning of aquifer parameters. This study compares groundwater modeling results from integrating large-scale zoning of aquifer parameters on the one hand, and a sedimentary structure-based heterogeneous description of the aquifer properties on the other.

This approach was applied to an ongoing subsurface highway construction northwest of the city of Basel, Switzerland – an area formerly contaminated by industrial activities. Today, urban groundwater resources are extensively used by industry. An integrated multidisciplinary approach was chosen to predict, mitigate or prevent environmental problems, as well as to ensure groundwater supply throughout construction. It includes integration of geological and hydrological data and results into a groundwater management system comprising: (1) extensive groundwater monitoring; (2) development of a database application facilitating lithofacies-based interpretation of drill-core data; (3) geostatistical analyses of the aquifer’s heterogeneity and simulations of hydraulic parameter distributions as well as; (4) regional and local high-resolution groundwater modeling. The combination of techniques presented exemplifies the fusion of quantitative and qualitative geological and hydrological information of different quality.