Big industries improve groundwater quality by using flux measurements

Posted on Friday 14 May 2021

How industries influence groundwater

Industries use water in a lot of their production processes. They use it in the production process, for cleaning, cooling and so on. For these purposes they mainly use surface water, but it can still have an important impact on our groundwater. When surface water is scarce, groundwater is used instead. But since this is only the case in a minority of situations, their main threat is not on groundwater quantity, but instead on groundwater quality

The quality can be threatened by historical contamination, by the (accidental) discharge of contaminated waste water and by leaching of storage tanks, calamities or salinization in harbors or nearby coastal areas. 

At the beginning of the industrialization, there was less attention for and knowledge of health, safety and environmental effects. Because soil and groundwater are invisible, the impact has been underestimated for a long time. But over time, awareness has grown. Industries now understand the importance of protecting soil and groundwater as they are scarce and recover slowly. Nowadays, more and more preventive measures are in place. However, working with hazardous chemicals involves risks. On the other hand, even when an industry is working with hazardous chemicals, this does not imply that they will pollute groundwater. Their effect on groundwater depends on the industry, the processes they use, characteristics of the site (storage practices, soil, groundwater streams), their monitoring efforts and so on.

More and more industrial players recognize the importance of good soil and (ground)water management and are becoming aware of the influence they can have on this. Therefore, they are increasingly taking up the goal of eliminating their negative impact on groundwater.  

How flux measurements enable industries to eliminate groundwater pollution

In order to monitor the integrity of their production processes and the risk they pose on groundwater, it is crucial to measure these influences as objectively as possible.

That is where flux measurements make the difference. Flux measurements reveal how much and when pollution can become significant for the operational processes. For operational processes as water extraction and water discharge, it is important to know the water quality and evolution over time. This may involve water extraction as input for the industrial processes, but with flux measurements industries can also monitor waste discharges that can pose a threat to the environment in order to take appropriate measures. Waiting until a pollution threshold is exceeded is often costly and slows down processes. So being able to predict these problems is one of the main advantages of flux data.

This mass flux data improves reaction time and the quality of the actions industries take.

In the case of water extraction, mass fluxes are relevant in determining the quality (e.g. nutrients, salinization, pollutants, Fe, Ca, …) of the water now and over time. This measured data enables industries to decide how and when to act even before an actual problem occurs.

In the case of water discharge, flux measurements reveal the  water quality, and how this is changing over time and space or how groundwater and mass is moving in the aquifer. These objective measurements give insights in the risk that industries pose on groundwater quality and can be used to design the most efficient solutions to eliminate these risks.

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Who is taking appropriate actions?

At iFLUX, we had the honor to already work with some of the world’s biggest industrial players. All of them prioritizes their impact on the environment.

We’ve worked together with Dow Chemical, Total, Shell and so on. For both treatment of historical contamination as well as preventive measures. They were among the first to use flux measurements and recognize the importance of groundwater quality.

So we’re honored to help them in achieving their sustainable goals.


Do you have a potential industrial contamination risk or want to be proactive when it comes to soil and groundwater protection?

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