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3D modelling of solute transport and mixing during managed aquifer recharge with an infiltration basin

Abstract : Artificial basins are used to recharge groundwater by many municipalities to improve the sustainability of storm water management. Despite its increasing operational implementation, artificial recharge still raises numerous questions related to its impact on groundwater quality. In this paper, a 3D numerical model of MAR basin/ aquifer system was implemented in order to simulate the fate of water and pollutants. It was used to illustrate the complex distribution in time and space of a tracer contaminant injected in the basin. The model was based on a well instrumented storm water infiltration basin located in Chassieu (Lyon area, France). The well-known Richards model was used to simulate the water flow in the saturated and unsaturated zone of the study site. The transfer of solutes in the basin/aquifer system was modelled by the advection-dispersion-equation (ADE). The model was calibrated during a rain event using hydraulic head and electric conductivity data from a set of piezometers located around the basin. The flow model was validated on a one month period of basin operation presenting several rain events. The model was then used to simulate the fate of a solute pollutant considered as a tracer during a high intensity rain event. This simplified test case illustrated the mechanism of capillary trapping in the vadose zone and the effect of sampling point location on concentration measurements. Three main results were obtained: (1) capillary trapping promoted a retention of up to 20% of the injected tracer in the vadose zone, (2) 0 to 24% of the injected solute concentration could be recovered depending on the piezometer location, (3) the averaged concentration decreased by 50% if the measuring device is lowered by 5 m under the water table. These results were strongly site and event dependant but observed trends should be considered while discussing punctual water quality measurements used to monitor MAR systems. It also allowed to suggest some guidelines for sampling point positioning.
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Contributor : Nathalie Lyvet <>
Submitted on : Thursday, May 6, 2021 - 8:58:49 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 25, 2021 - 1:55:39 PM


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Tidjani Bahar, Laurent Oxarango, Hélène Castebrunet, Yvan Rossier, Florian Mermillod-Blondin. 3D modelling of solute transport and mixing during managed aquifer recharge with an infiltration basin. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, Elsevier, 2021, 237, pp.103758. ⟨10.1016/j.jconhyd.2020.103758⟩. ⟨hal-03217012⟩



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