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Assessment of groundwater contamination risk using hazard quantification, a modified DRASTIC model and groundwater value, Beijing Plain, China

Wang, Junjie, He, Jiangtao, Chen, Honghan
The Science of the total environment 2012 v.432 pp. 216-226
aquifers, decision making, decision support systems, geographic information systems, groundwater, groundwater contamination, hazard characterization, hydrologic models, landfills, oils, risk, risk factors, thematic maps, water quality, China
Groundwater contamination risk assessment is an effective tool for groundwater management. Most existing risk assessment methods only consider the basic contamination process based upon evaluations of hazards and aquifer vulnerability. In view of groundwater exploitation potentiality, including the value of contamination-threatened groundwater could provide relatively objective and targeted results to aid in decision making. This study describes a groundwater contamination risk assessment method that integrates hazards, intrinsic vulnerability and groundwater value. The hazard harmfulness was evaluated by quantifying contaminant properties and infiltrating contaminant load, the intrinsic aquifer vulnerability was evaluated using a modified DRASTIC model and the groundwater value was evaluated based on groundwater quality and aquifer storage. Two groundwater contamination risk maps were produced by combining the above factors: a basic risk map and a value-weighted risk map. The basic risk map was produced by overlaying the hazard map and the intrinsic vulnerability map. The value-weighted risk map was produced by overlaying the basic risk map and the groundwater value map. Relevant validation was completed by contaminant distributions and site investigation. Using Beijing Plain, China, as an example, thematic maps of the three factors and the two risks were generated. The thematic maps suggested that landfills, gas stations and oil depots, and industrial areas were the most harmful potential contamination sources. The western and northern parts of the plain were the most vulnerable areas and had the highest groundwater value. Additionally, both the basic and value-weighted risk classes in the western and northern parts of the plain were the highest, indicating that these regions should deserve the priority of concern. Thematic maps should be updated regularly because of the dynamic characteristics of hazards. Subjectivity and validation means in assessing the vulnerability result were also discussed. In addition, GIS technology was essential in completing the assessment work.