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Groundwater Recharge and Chemical Contaminants: Challenges in Communicating the Connections and Collisions of Two Disparate Worlds

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Abstract:The existing knowledge base regarding the presence and significance of chemicals foreign to the subsurface environment is large and growing -the papers in this volume serving as recent testament. But complex questions with few answers surround the unknowns regarding the potential for environmental or human health effects from trace levels of xenobiotics in groundwater, especially groundwater augmented with treated wastewater. Public acceptance for direct or indirect groundwater recharge using treated municipal wastewater ( especially sewage) spans the spectrum from unquestioned embrace to outright rejection. In this article, I detour around the issues most commonly discussed for groundwater recharge and instead focus on some of the less-recognized issues- those that emanate from the mysteries created at the many literal and virtual interfaces involved with the subsurface world. My major objective is to catalyze discussion that advances our understanding of the barriers to public acceptance of wastewater reuse -with its ultimate culmination in direct reuse for drinking. I pose what could be a key question as to whether much of the public's frustration or ambivalence in its decision making process for accepting or rejecting water reuse (for various purposes including personal use) emanates from fundamental inaccuracies, misrepresentation, or oversimplification of what water 'is' and how it functions in the environment -just what exactly is the 'water cycle'. These questions suggest that perhaps it would behoove us to revisit some very elementary aspects of our science and how we convey it to the public.
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Citation:Daughton, C. G. Groundwater Recharge and Chemical Contaminants: Challenges in Communicating the Connections and Collisions of Two Disparate Worlds. GROUND WATER MONITORING AND REMEDIATION 24(2):127-138, (2004).
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Contact: Chris Siebert - (702) 798-2234 or siebert.christopher@epa.gov
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Division: Environmental Sciences Division
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Branch: Environmental Chemistry Branch
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Product Type: Journal
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Published: 06/18/2004
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Bullet Item Groundwater Recharge and Chemical Contaminants: Challenges in Communicating the Connections and Collisions of Two Disparate Worlds
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Related Entries:
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Bullet Item Addressing Emerging Issues in Water Quality Through Environmental Chemistry
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