Predictive methods for contaminant release from virgin and secondary road construction materials are important for evaluating potential long-term soil and groundwater contamination from highways. The objective of this research was to describe the field hydrology in a highway embankment and to investigate leaching under unsaturated conditions by use of a contaminant fate and transport model. The HYDRUS2D code was used to solve the Richards equation and the advection–dispersion equation with retardation. Water flow in a Minnesota highway embankment was successfully modeled in one dimension for several rain events after Bayesian calibration of the hydraulic parameters against water content data at a point 0.32 m from the surface of the embankment. The hypothetical leaching of Cadmium from coal fly ash was probabilistically simulated in a scenario where the top 0.50 m of the embankment was replaced by coal fly ash. Simulation results were compared to the percolation equation method where the solubility is multiplied by the liquid-to-solid ratio to estimate total release. If a low solubility value is used for Cadmium, the release estimates obtained using the percolation/equilibrium model are close to those predicted from HYDRUS2D simulations (10–4–10–2 mg Cd/kg ash). If high solubility is used, the percolation equation over predicts the actual release (0.1–1.0 mg Cd/kg ash). At the 90th percentile of uncertainty, the 10-year liquid-to-solid ratio for the coal fly ash embankment was 9.48 L/kg, and the fraction of precipitation that infiltrated the coal fly ash embankment was 92%. Probabilistic modeling with HYDRUS2D appears to be a promising realistic approach to predicting field hydrology and subsequent leaching in embankments.
Environmental Engineering Science
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Apul, D.S., K.H. Gardner, T.T. Eighmy, E. Linder, T. Frizzell, R. Roberson, “Probabilistic modeling of one dimensional water movement and leaching from highway embankments containing secondary materials," Environmental Engineering Science 22(2): 156-169 (2005).
This is a copy of an article published in Environmental Engineering Science ©2005 copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Environmental Engineering Science is available online at: http://online.liebertpub.com.