Impacts of extreme flooding on riverbank filtration water quality

Ascott, M.J.; Lapworth, D.J. ORCID:; Gooddy, D.C.; Sage, R.C.; Karapanos, I.. 2016 Impacts of extreme flooding on riverbank filtration water quality. Science of the Total Environment, 554-555. 89-101.

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Riverbank filtration schemes form a significant component of public water treatment processes on a global level. Understanding the resilience and water quality recovery of these systems following severe flooding is critical for effective water resources management under potential future climate change. This paper assesses the impact of floodplain inundation on the water quality of a shallow aquifer riverbank filtration system and how water quality recovers following an extreme (1 in 17 year, duration > 70 days, 7 day inundation) flood event. During the inundation event, riverbank filtrate water quality is dominated by rapid direct recharge and floodwater infiltration (high fraction of surface water, dissolved organic carbon (DOC) > 140% baseline values, > 1 log increase in micro-organic contaminants, microbial detects and turbidity, low specific electrical conductivity (SEC) < 90% baseline, high dissolved oxygen (DO) > 400% baseline). A rapid recovery is observed in water quality with most floodwater impacts only observed for 2–3 weeks after the flooding event and a return to normal groundwater conditions within 6 weeks (lower fraction of surface water, higher SEC, lower DOC, organic and microbial detects, DO). Recovery rates are constrained by the hydrogeological site setting, the abstraction regime and the water quality trends at site boundary conditions. In this case, increased abstraction rates and a high transmissivity aquifer facilitate rapid water quality recoveries, with longer term trends controlled by background river and groundwater qualities. Temporary reductions in abstraction rates appear to slow water quality recoveries. Flexible operating regimes such as the one implemented at this study site are likely to be required if shallow aquifer riverbank filtration systems are to be resilient to future inundation events. Development of a conceptual understanding of hydrochemical boundaries and site hydrogeology through monitoring is required to assess the suitability of a prospective riverbank filtration site.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0048-9697
Additional Keywords: GroundwaterBGS, Groundwater, Groundwater flooding, Groundwater quality, EOC
Date made live: 09 Mar 2016 10:03 +0 (UTC)

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