Transport and fate of chemical and microbial tracers at University of Western Cape (UWC) campus site, Cape Flats aquifer of South Africa
Extreme weather events in combination with geographical changes in groundwater utilization, groundwater availability, aquifer recharge, and ultimately changes in the quality of water resources, are expected in the future. As a consequence of changing weather patterns and urbanization the demand for groundwater is likely to increase in certain areas. We know that most waterborne pathogenic health epidemics are associated with contamination of farm water and wastewater. There is however limited understanding of the nature and extent of chemical, physical and biological processes that control the fate and transport of the microorganisms in primary and secondary aquifers. In this thesis, transport results are reported, where E. coli and PDR1 were selected as the biological tracers transported through a primary aquifer at the University of the Western Cape. In conjunction with the microbes salt and Rhodamine (chemical tracers) were injected to compare their fate and transport mechanism in the primary aquifer medium. A series of controlled Darcy experiments under laboratory and field conditions were conducted. Each provided a different data and information. The results from laboratory studies were used to improve design of the field studies. In both cases, the data collected provided information on fate and transport of microbes in groundwater. The field design phase of the experiment was an up-scaling of the laboratory phase of this project. The amount of chemical tracers injected into the aquifer was increased in proportion to the size of the research site. Tracer tests using chemical and microbial tracers were conducted simultaneously. Results of laboratory tests demonstrate a 5 times slower transport of microbes, compared to tests with salts during the laboratory phase. The salts at field scale show a breakthrough occurring after 2 days whereas the microbes –did not break through during the 28 days of the observation period. A new borehole was drilled closer to the pumping borehole to eliminate distance or travel time, but this had no effect on field results for the microbes.