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The impact of urban groundwater upon surface water quality : Birmingham - River Tame study, UK

Ellis, Paul Austin (2003)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

A field-based research study has been undertaken on the River Tame within the industrial city of Birmingham, UK, to understand better the influence of urban groundwater discharge on surface-water quality. The 8 km study reach receives ~6% of its total baseflow (60% of which is groundwater) from the underlying Triassic Sandstone aquifer and flood-plain sediments. An integrated set of surface water and groundwater flow, head and physical/chemical data was collected from installed riverbed piezometers and existing monitoring across the aquifer. Field data and supporting computer modelling indicated the convergence of groundwater flows from the sandstone/drift deposits and variable discharge to the river (0.06 to 10.7 m\(^3\)d\(^{-1}\)m\(^{-1}\), mean 3.6 m\(^3\)d\(^{-1}\)m\(^{-1}\)), much of which occurred through the riverbanks. Significant heterogeneity was also observed in groundwater quality along and across the river channel. Key contaminants detected were copper, nickel, sulphate, nitrate, chlorinated solvents, e.g. trichloroethene, and their biodegradation products. Groundwater contaminant concentrations were generally lower than expected and ascribed to dilution and natural attenuation within the aquifer and riverbed. High concentration plumes were detected, but their effect was localised due to substantial dilution within the overlying water column of the river. Estimated contaminant fluxes were not found to reduce significantly the present surface water quality, which is poor (>30% is pipe-end discharge). Comparative studies elsewhere and further elucidation of heterogeneity and natural attenuation controls are recommended.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Rivett, M. O. (Mike O.) and Mackay, Rae
School/Faculty:Schools (1998 to 2008) > School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences
Department:Hydrogeology Group
Subjects:QE Geology
GE Environmental Sciences
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:901
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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