Water Quality

Water coming out of pipes

The Water Quality technical group focuses on deep understanding of the interface between water and the subsurface, the surface, and the atmosphere, and applies the results to solving complex water quality problems. Erica Woodburn is lead of this group.

This group conducts experimental studies and develops conceptual and numerical models to assess flow, transport, and reaction processes in a variety of subsurface and engineered systems related to:

Spills and waste disposal

  • Reaction with soil/sediments both above and below the water table
  • Discharge and contaminant transport to nearby creeks
  • Example: pH and uranium at a waste disposal facility











Mining-Impacted Lake Sediments

  • Example: oxygenation of reduced sediments by surface water
  • Assessing the transport of various metals including concentration trends with depth













  • Using predictive models to link physical and chemical processes on/within membranes to macro-level desalination system performance
  • Understand fouling to reduce operational costs and improve efficiency




















Carbon geologic sequestration

·      Experimental and numerical simulation of carbon capture and storage to assess the feasibility of large-scale implementation

·      Understanding potential risks to water quality due to the injection of CO2 and other constituents



















Metal and carbon cycling

Arora et al., 2016












Groundwater-surface water interactions

Through the use of high performance computing and integrated hydrologic models such as ParFlow and Amanzi-ATS, the complex partitioning of water and solutes across the critical zone are being studied in a number of different contexts. Problems range from meso-scale (e.g. a) to watershed-scale (e.g. b) projects.























Water-energy feedbacks

The inextricable link between energy use and the extraction, distribution, and treatment of water is becoming increasingly acknowledged and important. For example, understanding how tradeoffs between energy requirements to source water from groundwater pumping or from surface water, in tandem with the secondary impacts on the quality of water (and therefore the energy requirements to treat that water) are topics of interest.