Principles of organic contaminant behavior during artificial recharge

Paul V. Roberts, Albert J. Valocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The behavior of a variety of organic contaminants having low molecular weight has been observed during groundwater recharge with reclaimed water. The evidence is site-specific, but is believed to have broader implications regarding the general behavior of organic contaminants in groundwater. The movement of specific contaminants such as chloroform and chlorobenzene is retarded with respect to that of a conservative tracer such as chloride. The measured retardation factors are approximately 3 and 35 for chloroform and chlorobenzene, respectively. The retardation is caused by the sorption of the solute, apparently by the organic constituents of the soil material. The magnitude of the retardation factor of an organic solute can be predicted approximately from knowledge of the organic carbon content of the aquifer material and the octanol-water partition coefficient of the solute. Sorption also contributes to attenuation (damping) of concentration fluctuations. It is shown that the degree of attenuation depends strongly on the retardation factor, the distance traveled, and the hydrogeologic characteristics of the aquifer. There is evidence of biodegradation of organic solutes in the vicinity of the recharge well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-450
Number of pages12
JournalStudies in Environmental Science
Issue numberC
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering


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