Groundwater makes up 99% of all liquid freshwater and is the predominant source of water for humans globally. It provides half the global population with drinking water, and it sustains rivers, ecological systems, and irrigated agriculture. Groundwater exists as water contained in the voids of soils and rocks below ground. It is essentially a subsurface reservoir that sustains nearly all freshwater during periods of drought that are intensified with climate change. Despite its importance, groundwater receives little attention, and to much of the population it is an unknown entity. Groundwater contamination by man-made chemicals is ubiquitous and poses a threat to sustainable groundwater management and protection. This presentation will consist of several video animations and associated discussion that describe various groundwater contamination scenarios, including contamination by widely-used solvents, petroleum products, and the recently publicized PFAS chemicals referred to as "forever chemicals". Attendees to the presentation should expect to gain a mental model of the fundamentals of groundwater flow and contamination.
Dr. Andrew Cohen received his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and a B.S. in Water Resources from the Department of Earth Sciences, State University of New York at Oneonta. His focus is hydrogeologic characterization of contaminated sites and related modeling of transport and fate of contaminants in soil, groundwater, surface water, and sediment. Prior to his current role as a contaminant hydrogeologist in the environmental consulting industry, he was a Research Associate at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he focused on characterization and modeling of groundwater in fractured and faulted bedrock. He is Adjunct Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he teaches Contaminant Hydrogeology.