One result of the growing concern over surface-water pollution has been an increase in the popularity of ground-based waste disposal practices that save the streams but have a high potential for subsurface pollution. One of these, sanitary landfill, appears quite promising in its ability to handle large waste loads with a minimum of contamination; but two others, waste lagoons and deep-well injection of liquid wastes into geologic formations, lead to irreversible subsurface pollution. In all cases, the mechanism of pollution is an interaction between the pollutant source and the existing soil-moisture and groundwater flow systems. A mathematical model of the subsurface flow can be used to predict this interaction and to assess the impact on the environment of a proposed disposal site. The model applied in this paper can predict transient and steady state subsurface flow systems in two or three dimensions and includes consideration of both the saturated and the unsaturated zones. It can be applied at the reconnaissance stage on a regional basis to analyze a large number of alternative sites and at the chosen site to test the efficiency of various design alternatives and to provide guidance in the design of a monitoring system. The model predicts only convective transport and does not consider dispersion or hydrochemical reactions.
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