WRRC Seminar by Robert Whittier and Donald Thomas

Aloha,Please join us on March 18 from 2 pm to 3 pm (HST) for a WRRC Seminar. Upcoming WRRC Spring seminars can also be found at the WRRC website

*The WRRC seminar is now on Friday at 2 p.m. (HST) unless otherwise noted.

TITLE:  Groundwater Flow in the Moanalua/Red Hill/Halawa Region: Evaluating Rates, Directions, and Contamination Risks

SPEAKERS:  Robert Whittier and Donald Thomas

*DATE AND TIME:  March 18, 2022, 2 pm (HST)

Join Zoom Meeting:  https://hawaii.zoom.us/j/91333244951

Meeting ID:  913 3324 4951

Passcode:  029393

The Navy stores more than 100 million gallons of petroleum-based fuels in underground storage tanks located just 100 to 150 feet above an Oahu aquifer, a primary drinking water source. Originally built in the 1940s, the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility consists of 18 massive storage tanks and poses a contamination risk not only to the aquifer but to three other important public drinking water sources located within 2 km. Fuel leaks have occurred periodically over the decades and the Red Hill facility presents a particular contamination risk because (1) the two highest drinking water production sources are Maui-type wells (skimming tunnels) that draw water from the top of the water table, and (2) the fuels stored at the facility are characterized as “Light Non-aqueous Phase Liquids” (LNAPL) that, once released, will accumulate and spread across the top of the basal aquifer. The degree of risk of contamination to the drinking water sources is also dependent on groundwater flow trajectories and velocities beneath the tanks and surrounding areas and needs to be studied further to provide a more accurate assessment. The results of ongoing investigations around the facility will be integrated into a conceptual site model that should provide a template for continuing evaluation of contaminant risk and groundwater flow state-wide.

Robert Whittier is a geologist with the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) Safe Drinking Water Branch and an affiliate faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UHM) Department of Earth Sciences and WRRC. His responsibilities at HDOH include monitoring groundwater quality, designing and implementing groundwater contamination risk studies, and assessing the vulnerability to contamination of new or proposed drinking water sources.

Dr. Donald Thomas is a member of the faculty of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology at UHM and serves as Director of the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at UH Hilo. Currently, his research focus has involved characterizing the geologic structures within Hawaii Island and how they affect groundwater chemistry and flow.

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