Title

Transient bacterial contamination of the dual-porosity aquifer at Walkerton, Ontario, Canada

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Publication Date

January 2017

Abstract

Contamination of the Paleozoic carbonate aquifer at Walkerton (Ontario, Canada) by pathogenic bacteria following heavy rain in May 2000 resulted in 2,300 illnesses and seven deaths. Subsequent tracer testing showed that there was rapid groundwater flow in the aquifer, and also rapid exchange between the aquifer and the ground surface. Electrical conductivity (EC) profiling during a 3-day pumping test showed that most flow was through bedding-plane fractures spaced about 10 m apart, that there were substantial contrasts in EC in the major fracture flows, and that there were rapid changes over time . Total coliform sampling revealed transient groundwater contamination, particularly after heavy rain and lasting up to a few days. These characteristics can be understood in terms of the dual-porosity nature of the aquifer. Most of the storage is in the matrix, but this can be considered to be static in the short term. Almost all transport is through the fracture network, which has rapid groundwater flow (∼100 m / day) and rapid transmission of pressure pulses due to the high hydraulic diffusivity. Rapid recharge can occur through thin and / or fractured overburden and at spring sites where flow is reversed by pumping during episodes of surface flooding. These characteristics facilitated the ingress of surface-derived bacteria into the aquifer, and their rapid transport within the aquifer to pumping wells. Bacterial presence is common in carbonate aquifers, and this can be explained by the well-connected, large-aperture fracture networks in these dual-porosity aquifers, even though many, such as at Walkerton, lack karst landforms. but this can be considered to be static in the short term. Almost all transport is through the fracture network, which has rapid groundwater flow (∼100 m / day) and rapid transmission of pressure pulses due to the high hydraulic diffusivity. Rapid recharge can occur through thin and / or fractured overburden and at spring sites where flow is reversed by pumping during episodes of surface flood

Notes

Hydrogeology Journal, Vol. 25, no. 4 (2017).

Keywords

Dual Porosity, Canada, Microbial Processes, Karst, Health

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RDA

Subject: topical

Dual Porosity; Canada; Microbial Processes; Karst; Health

Type

Article

Genre

serial

Identifier

SFS0073021_00001

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