Modeling Raw Sewage Leakage and Transport in the Unsaturated Zone of Carbonate Aquifer Using Carbamazepine as an Indicator

A. Yakirevich, M. Kuznetsov, Y. Livshitz, G. Gasser, I. Pankratov, O. Lev, E. Adar, N. Z. Dvory

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Fast contamination of groundwater in karstic aquifers can be caused due to leaky sewers, for example, or overflow from sewer networks. When flowing through a karst system, wastewater has the potential to reach the aquifer in a relatively short time. The Western Mountain Aquifer (Yarkon-Taninim) of Israel is one of the country's major water resources. During late winter 2013, maintenance actions were performed on a central sewage pipe that caused raw sewage to leak into the creek located in the study area. The subsequent infiltration of sewage through the thick ( 100 m) fractured/karst unsaturated zone led to a sharp increase in contaminant concentrations in the groundwater, which was monitored in a well located 29 meters from the center of the creek. Carbamazepine (CBZ) was used as an indicator for the presence of untreated raw sewage and its quantification in groundwater. The ultimate research goal was to develop a mathematical model for quantifying flow and contaminant transport processes in the fractured-porous unsaturated zone and karstified groundwater system. A quasi-3D dual permeability numerical model, representing the 'vadose zone - aquifer' system, was developed by a series of 1D equations solved in variably-saturated zone and by 3D-saturated flow and transport equation in groundwater. The 1D and 3D equations were coupled at the moving phreatic surface. The model was calibrated and applied to a simulated water flow scenario and CBZ transport during and after the observed sewage leakage event. The results of simulation showed that after the leakage stopped, significant amounts of CBZ were retained in the porous matrix of the unsaturated zone below the creek. Water redistribution and slow recharge during the dry summer season contributed to elevated CBZ concentrations in the groundwater in the vicinity of the creek and tens of meters downstream. The resumption of autumn rains enhanced flushing of CBZ from the unsaturated zone and led to an increase in groundwater concentrations.
Original languageEnglish GB
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • 1829 Groundwater hydrology
  • HYDROLOGYDE: 1830 Groundwater/surface water interaction
  • HYDROLOGYDE: 1831 Groundwater quality
  • HYDROLOGYDE: 1847 Modeling


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