Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey

Committee on U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Research

Water Science and Technology Board

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Academy Press
Washington, D.C. 1996



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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey Committee on U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Research Water Science and Technology Board Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources National Academy Press Washington, D.C. 1996

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Harold Liebowitz is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. Harold Liebowitz are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Support for this project was provided by the U.S. Geological Survey under Grant No. 1434-93-A-0982. Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Copies available from the Water Science and Technology Board, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20418. Printed in the United States of America

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey COMMITTEE ON U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY WATER RESOURCES RESEARCH GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, Chairman, University of Virginia, Charlottesville LISA ALVAREZ-COHEN, University of California, Berkeley KENNETH R. BRADBURY, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, Madison CONSTANCE HUNT, World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. DAWN S. KABACK, Colorado Center for Environmental Management, Denver DAVID H. MOREAU, North Carolina State University, Raleigh FREDERICK G. POHLAND, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania FRANK W. SCHWARTZ, The Ohio State University, Columbus LEONARD SHABMAN, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg MITCHELL J. SMALL, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ALAN T. STONE, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland DAVID A. WOOLHISER, Colorado State University, Fort Collins National Research Council Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Project Director ANITA A. HALL, Project Assistant

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey WATER SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY BOARD DAVID L. FREYBERG, Chair, Stanford University, Stanford, California BRUCE E. RITTMANN, Vice Chair, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois LINDA M. ABRIOLA, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor PATRICK L. BREZONIK, Water Resources Research Center, St. Paul, Minnesota JOHN BRISCOE, The World Bank, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM M. EICHBAUM, The World Wildlife Fund, Washington, D.C. WILFORD R. GARDNER, University of California, Berkeley THOMAS M. HELLMAN, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, New York, New York CAROL A. JOHNSTON, University of Minnesota, Duluth WILLIAM M. LEWIS, JR., University of Colorado, Boulder JOHN W. MORRIS, J.W. Morris Ltd., Arlington, Virginia CAROLYN H. OLSEN, Brown and Caldwell, Pleasant Hill, California CHARLES R. O'MELIA, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland REBECCA T. PARKIN, American Public Health Association, Washington, D.C. IGNACIO RODRIGUEZ-ITURBE, Texas A&M University, College Station FRANK W. SCHWARTZ, Ohio State University, Columbus HENRY J. VAUX, JR., University of California, Riverside Staff STEPHEN D. PARKER, Director SHEILA D. DAVID, Senior Staff Officer CHRIS ELFRING, Senior Staff Officer GARY D. KRAUSS Staff Officer JACQUELINE MACDONALD Senior Staff Officer JEANNE AQUILINO Administrative Associate ETAN GUMERMAN Research Associate ANGELA F. BRUBAKER Research Assistant ANITA A. HALL Administrative Assistant MARY BETH MORRIS Senior Project Assistant ELLEN DEGUZMAN Senior Project Assistant

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES M. GORDON WOLMAN, Chair, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland PATRICK R. ATKINS, Aluminum Company of America, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania JAMES P. BRUCE, Canadian Climate Program Board, Ottawa, Canada WILLIAM L. FISHER, University of Texas, Austin JERRY F. FRANKLIN, University of Washington, Seattle GEORGE M. HORNBERGER, University of Virginia, Charlottesville DEBRA S. KNOPMAN, Progressive Foundation, Washington, D.C. PERRY L. MCCARTY, Stanford University, Stanford, California JUDITH E. MCDOWELL, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts S. GEORGE PHILANDER, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey RAYMOND A. PRICE, Queen's University at Kingston, Ontario THOMAS C. SCHELLING, University of Maryland, College Park ELLEN K. SILBERGELD, University of Maryland Medical School, Baltimore STEVEN M. STANLEY, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland VICTORIA J. TSCHINKEL, Landers and Parsons, Tallahassee, Florida Staff STEPHEN RATTIEN, Executive Director STEPHEN D. PARKER, Associate Executive Director MORGAN GOPNIK, Assistant Executive Director GREGORY SYMMES, Reports Officer JAMES E. MALLORY, Administrative Officer SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate SUSAN SHERWIN, Project Assistant

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey Preface This report is a product of the Committee on USGS Water Resources Research, which provides consensus advice to the Water Resources Division (WRD) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on scientific, research, and programmatic issues. The committee is one of the groups that works under the auspices of the Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) of the National Research Council. The committee considers a variety of topics that are important scientifically and programmatically to the USGS and the nation and issues reports when appropriate. This report concerns the WRD science and technology that is relevant to hazardous materials in the soil and water environment, including the subsurface, stream and lake sediments, and surface waters. Within the USGS, this work is dispersed in a number of WRD program areas, including basic research, regional and site assessments, and data collection activities. In the United States, a massive effort is in progress to remediate sites at which hazardous materials threaten the environment. For perspective, it has been estimated that there may be as many as 300,000 sites where soil and/or ground water may require remediation to reverse the negative impacts of past industrial, military, agricultural, and commercial activity. Estimates of the costs of this effort over the next several decades approach a trillion dollars. The science and technology carried out in the WRD, though modest in terms of investment, contributes significantly to the national effort by continually imparting new understanding about the natural processes relevant to the transport, fate, and remediation of hazardous substances in the soil and water environments.

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey This report attempts to help shape the overall framework for the agency's research in hazardous materials science and technology, while pointing up general areas of scientific opportunity, including communications and education. As such, the report does not represent an in-depth review of all germane WRD programs and projects, but instead is a more general document intended to provide strategic advice to WRD management. The committee began its review in late 1993, when most members participated in the regular meeting of the USGS Toxic Substances Hydrology Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Subsequently, the committee met five more times before completing this report. At meetings, members were briefed by USGS personnel on a variety of programs and toured field sites—such as the contaminated ground water sites at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, and a site of mining-related metals transport into the Arkansas River in Leadville, Colorado—to acquire information for review. The members wrote individual contributions and deliberated as a group to achieve consensus on the content of this report. It is hoped that by maintaining a broad, forward-looking perspective, this assessment will prove useful. As the committee deliberated and became more cognizant of USGS activities, productive discussions occurred between the members and USGS personnel. This interaction was critical to success of this project. The committee is particularly grateful to Dr. Robert M. Hirsch, Chief Hydrologist, Dr. Gail E. Mallard, Acting Assistant Chief Hydrologist for Research and External Coordination, and their colleagues for all the information and cooperation they provided. It is hoped that this report will help promote the understanding of natural processes relevant to hazardous materials science and technology, and that in turn, this improved understanding will lead to advances in public policy and environmental management. The work of the USGS in this area is key to making progress on one of the most crucial natural resources science policy issues of our time. George M. Hornberger Chair, Committee on USGS Water Resources Research

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey Contents     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1  1   INTRODUCTION   3  2   OVERVIEW OF THE FEDERAL EFFORT IN HAZARDOUS MATERIAL REGULATION AND REMEDIATION   8      Legislative Background,   8      The Evolution of Research in Hydrology,   11      Overview of Relevant USGS Programs,   13      Comparison of USGS Hydrologic Research to That of Other Organizations,   17      From Process Discovery to Application: The Role of the USGS,   20  3   CHARACTERIZATION: PROCESSES AND METHODS FOR IMPROVING UNDERSTANDING   23      The Need,   23      State-of-the-art of Characterization,   24      Critical Areas of Research,   34      Opportunities for the USGS,   35  4   REMEDIATION   37      Introduction,   37

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Hazardous Materials in the Hydrologic Environment: The Role of Research by the U.S. Geological Survey      State-of-the-Art in the Field,   38      Critical Areas for Research,   44      Opportunities for the USGS,   45  5   MATHEMATICAL MODELS AND DECISION SUPPORT   48      Predictive Flow and Transport Models,   49      Decision Support Systems,   61      Optimization and Decision Analysis,   64      Decision Support in the USGS Hazardous Materials Science Program,   67      Opportunities for the USGS in Modeling,   68  6   CONCLUSIONS   70      Overall Program Framework,   70      USGS Collaboration With Other Agencies,   71      Some Critical Issues,   72      Educational Opportunities,   73      Issues in Planning and Implementation,   73     REFERENCES   75     APPENDIXES    A   U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Division Plan for Hazardous Materials Science   90  B   Biographical Sketches of Committee Members   106