Important to any analysis of a potential or actual groundwater pollution problem is the ability to predict when and where any pollutant may interface with the biologic realm. It is also necessary to know the amounts that may appear at an outflow boundary over a period of time. Thus a geography-time distribution and a geography-quantity distribution can assist decision-makers in evaluating and comparing different waste disposal schemes.
A graphical procedure based upon flow net analysis coupled with vector analysis permits estimation of pollutant arrival times at an outflow boundary. The procedure also aids in determination of variations of pollutant concentrations across the outflow boundary with time and in space. The technique utilizes contour maps and simple graphs. Intraformational (macroscale) and interformational (megascale) aspects of groundwater pollution can be analyzed with the technique.
Examples of applications to which the technique can be applied are potential groundwater contamination from a sanitary landfill leachate, the case of a leaky waste-holding pond, and the pattern of contamination from a leaky underground gasoline storage tank. The technique also can be applied in reconnaissance studies for hazardous waste site evaluation using available hydrogeologic data. Detailed site evaluation can be guided through use of the approach. It can be utilized relatively inexpensively to predict longterm, downstream effects of pollutant leakage from a disposal site.