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Analysis of remedial scenarios affecting plume movement through a sole-source aquifer system, southeastern Nassau County, New York

January 1, 2020

A steady-state three-dimensional groundwater-flow model based on present conditions is coupled with the particle-tracking program MODPATH to assess the fate and transport of volatile organic-compound plumes within the Magothy and upper glacial aquifers in southeastern Nassau County, New York. Particles are forward tracked from locations within plumes defined by surfaces of equal concentration. Particles move toward ultimate well capture and discharge to the general head and drain boundaries representing natural receptors in the models. Because rates of advection within coarse-grained sediments typically exceed 0.1 foot per day, mechanisms of dispersion and diffusion were assumed to be negligible. Resulting particle pathlines are influenced by hydrogeologic framework features and the interplay of nearby hydrologic stresses. Simulated hydrologic effects include cones of depression near pumping wells and water-table mounding near points of treated water recharge; however, remedial pumping amounts are balanced by treated-water return, and net effects at distant regional boundaries, including freshwater/saltwater interfaces, are minor.

Once a steady-state model was developed and calibrated, eight hypothetical remedial scenarios were evaluated to hydraulically contain the volatile organic-compound plumes. Specifically, the remedial scenarios were optimized to achieve full containment by altering the pumping-well locations, adjusting the pumping rates, and adjusting the discharge locations and rates. Based on the results, total hypothetical extraction rates varied from about 5,462 gallons per minute during an anticipated near-future condition to about 13,340 gallons per minute during full hydraulic containment of all site-related compounds identified by the New York State standards, criteria, and guidance for environmental investigations and cleanup. Targeting of high-concentration zones of the plume increases the total amount of remedial pumpage necessary to capture all parts of the plume but may decrease the total amount of time necessary to operate a remedial system. Simulated time frames of advective transport ranged from about 12 years to capture zones with elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (mean particle travel time plus the standard deviation of travel time) to more than 100 years to capture all zones.

Groundwater-flow model analysis indicates that all the optimal plume-containment scenarios would have negligible effects on streams and the saltwater-freshwater interface along the south shore of Long Island. Massapequa, Bellmore, Seaman, and Seaford Creeks are represented by using MODFLOW drain-boundary conditions. Saltwater-freshwater interfaces are represented by using MODFLOW general head-boundary conditions where the Magothy aquifer discharges upward into saline groundwater across the Gardiners clay confining unit and the Lloyd aquifer discharges upward into saline groundwater across the Raritan confining unit.

Publication Year 2020
Title Analysis of remedial scenarios affecting plume movement through a sole-source aquifer system, southeastern Nassau County, New York
DOI 10.3133/sir20205090
Authors Paul E. Misut, Donald A. Walter, Christopher Schubert, Sarken Dressler
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2020-5090
Index ID sir20205090
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization New York Water Science Center