2004 Progress Report: Evaluation of Hydrologic Models for Alternative Covers at Mine Waste Sites

EPA Grant Number: R829515C007
Subproject: this is subproject number 007 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R829515
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: HSRC - Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center for Remediation of Mine Waste Sites
Center Director: Shackelford, Charles D.
Title: Evaluation of Hydrologic Models for Alternative Covers at Mine Waste Sites
Investigators: Shackelford, Charles D. , Benson, Craig H.
Institution: Colorado State University , University of Wisconsin - Madison
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: October 1, 2002 through September 30, 2005
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2003 through September 30, 2004
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Hazardous Substance Research Centers - HSRC (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Land and Waste Management


The overall objective of this research project is to evaluate the accuracy of five different hydrologic models (HELP, UNSAT-H, VADOSE/W, H ydrus-2D, and LEACHM) commonly used for the design of cover systems using high-quality field data from large-scale test facilities of alternative covers, with the ultimate aim of developing an improved, easy-to-use, and field-verified model for long-term assessment of alternative covers at a variety of sites and climatic conditions. The research project has four specific objectives:

  1. a baseline assessment and comparison of the algorithms in existing hydrologic models when applied to a variety of meteorological conditions;
  2. an unbiased critical assessment of the predictive capabilities of existing hydrologic models for covers using field data from the Alternative Landfill Cover Demonstration, Alternative Cover Assessment Program, and Rocky Mountain Arsenal;
  3. improvement of the hydrologic model (or models) that have the most promise so that predictions made with the model are accurate;
  4. and incorporation of additional algorithms in the model that can be used to assess the impact of long-term processes such as plant secession, pedogenesis, and climatic change.

Progress Summary:

Simulations using the VADOSE/W model with the same input data have been performed at both the University of Wisconsin and Colorado State University to assess the consistency in the results. The comparison of output results includes volumetric water content as well as water balance mechanisms such as cumulative runoff, cumulative precipitation, cumulative surface evaporation, cumulative storage, and cumulative water balance. Comparison of simulation results with field data also have been made among predictions from HYDRUS-2D, UNSAT-H, VADOSE/W, and LEACHM with field data from field sites. Finally, systematic evaluations of input parameters using each of the models to assess the relative impact (i.e., high, modest, low) on the water balance predictions also have been performed. Similar sensitivity analyses have been performed to date primarily with the UNSAT-H and HYDRUS-2D models on all components of the water balance (soil water storage, surface runoff, evapotranspiration, and percolation) for a limited number of sites. Additional simulations have been performed to evaluate the lower (outflow) boundary condition (LBC) used in the simulations. For example, a seepage face LBC has been recommended in the literature and typically used in practice, but the results of our simulations to date suggest that a unit gradient LBC may provide better correlations with field data and more conservative predictions. These results will be updated and possibly expanded as additional models and sites are evaluated and compared.

Future Activities:

We will finalize the third and fourth objectives in Year 3 of the project. The activities will include continued assembly of input files and conducting further comparative simulations.

Publications/Presentations: See the list of publications/presentations included in the 2004 Annual Report Summary for R829515, which is the overall report for the Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center.

Supplemental Keywords:

Technical Outreach Services for Communities, TOSC, Technical Assistance to Brownfields, TAB, groundwater, industry sectors, waste, water, ecological risk assessment, ecology, ecosystems, ecology and ecosystems, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, geology, geochemistry, toxicology, microbiology, hazardous, hazardous waste, mining-NAIC 21, selenium, acid mine drainage, acid mine runoff, aquatic ecosystems, arsenic, contaminant transport, contaminated sediments, contaminated marine sediment, contaminated waste sites, contaminated sites, contaminated soil, field monitoring, mining-impacted runoff, sediment transport, stream ecosystems, suspended sediment, sediments, mining, remediation, metal mobility, subsurface, extraction of metals, heavy metals, leaching of toxic metals, metal release, metal wastes, metals, metals-contaminated soil, mining wastes, remediation technologies, risk assessment,, RFA, Industry Sectors, Scientific Discipline, Air, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Waste, TREATMENT/CONTROL, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Waste Treatment, Remediation, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, climate change, Restoration, Mining - NAIC 21, Air Pollution Effects, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Hazardous Waste, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Geology, Groundwater remediation, Hazardous, Environmental Engineering, Atmosphere, Risk Assessment, hydrogeology, monitoring, aquatic ecosystem, contaminant transport, contaminated waste sites, contaminated sites, acid mine drainage, bioavailability, remediation technologies, groundwater hydrology models, restoration strategies, geochemistry, hydrology, mining, treatment, ecological recovery, leaching of toxic metals, alternative covers, aquatic ecosystems, contaminated groundwater, water quality, acid mine discharge, environmental rehabilitation, ecological indicators, heavy metal contamination, contaminated aquifers, extraction of metals, aquatic toxicology, mining waste, heavy metals, metals, mining wastes, stream ecosystem, groundwater pollution

Relevant Websites:

http://www.emgr.colostate.edu/hsrc/ Exit

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2003 Progress Report
  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    R829515    HSRC - Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center for Remediation of Mine Waste Sites

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R829515C001 Redox Transformations, Complexation and Soil/Sediment Interactions of Inorganic Forms of As and Se in Aquatic Environments: Effects of Natural Organic Matter
    R829515C002 Fate and Transport of Metals and Sediment in Surface Water
    R829515C003 Metal Removal Capabilities of Passive Bioreactor Systems: Effects of Organic Matter and Microbial Population Dynamics
    R829515C004 Evaluating Recovery of Stream Ecosystems from Mining Pollution: Integrating Biochemical, Population, Community and Ecosystem Indicators
    R829515C005 Rocky Mountain Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center Training and Technology Transfer Program
    R829515C006 Technical Outreach Services for Communities and Technical Assistance to Brownfields
    R829515C007 Evaluation of Hydrologic Models for Alternative Covers at Mine Waste Sites
    R829515C008 Microbial Reduction of Uranium in Mine Leachate by Fermentative and Iron-Reducing Bacteria
    R829515C009 Development and Characterization of Microbial Inocula for High-Performance Passive Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage
    R829515C010 Reactive Transport Modeling of Metal Removal From Anaerobic Biozones
    R829515C011 Assessment of Electrokinetic Injection of Amendments for Remediation of Acid Mine Drainage
    R829515C012 Metal Toxicity Thresholds for Important Reclamation Plant Species of the Rocky Mountains
    R829515C013 An Improved Method for Establishing Water Quality Criteria for Mining Impacted Streams