Examples of Landfill-Generated Plumes in Low-Relief Areas, Southeast Florida

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ground water hydrology, hazardous waste management, nonpoint source pollution, pollution modeling, water quality, landfills

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Areas of low topographic relief have low water-table gradients and make the direction of movement of contaminants from land fills in the ground water difficult to predict from regional gradients alone. The landfill, nearby free-flowing ditches or canals, variations in hydraulic conductivity, and the influence of nearby pumping wells can all affect the direction of flow. In low-gradient areas the concepts of “upgradient” and “downgradient” are less useful in planning the location of monitoring wells than in areas of higher relief. Low-relief areas also may be affected by the discharge of mineralized water from deeper aquifers, naturally or through irrigation, which can mask geochemical surveys intended to detect landfill leachate.

Examples of effects of low topographic relief are noted in southeast Florida where water-table gradients are 7×10-4 to 5×10-4 feet per foot. Water-table mounding beneath the landfill and the drainage effects of nearby ditches and well have created multiple leachate plumes in Stuart where one plume migrated in a direction opposite to the apparent regional gradient. In Coral Springs analysis suggests a bifurcating plume migrating along two narrow zones. In Fort Pierce it was difficult to detect leachate because of mineralized irrigation water and fertilizer runoff from an adjacent citrus grove.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, v. 23, issue 5, p. 863-866