Abstract

A commonly used flood mitigation technique in coastal areas of Australia during the late 1960s was the installation of one-way floodgates on flood mitigation drains. In regions affected by acid sulphate soils (the oxidation of pyrite in the soil forms sulphuric acid), the floodgates prevent tidal carbonate/bicarbonate buffering of the drains and thereby create reservoirs of acidic water (pH < 4.5) that discharge during low tide. Several acid sulphate soil remediation techniques have been used in coastal lowland in southeastern NSW, Australia. Following extensive monitoring and finite element modelling of groundwater conditions and quality, fixed level V-notch weirs were installed at three elevations to maintain elevated groundwater levels. The weirs successfully maintained the groundwater level above the acid sulphate soils, preventing additional pyrite oxidation, and reduced the rate of discharge of acid to the drain. Following further monitoring, investigation into anaerobic acid sources, and finite element-based geochemical modelling, modified two-way floodgates that allow tidal ingress were installed. The modified floodgates were successful in buffering the drain water pH before discharging the drain water into adjacent waterways. Numerical analysis based on finite element modelling was extended to illustrate that saline intrusion into the surrounding soil (as a result of tidal ingress and acid buffering in the drains) was not a major concern for the pastureland or other agricultural activities.

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