Surface water process and groundwater flow within a hydrologically complex floodplain wetland, Norfolk Broads, U.K.
- 1Department of Environmental Science, University of Stirling, FK9 4LA, U.K.
- 2Steffan, Robertson and Kirsten, Summit House, Windsor Place, Cardiff, CF1 3BX, U.K.
- 3Department of Earth Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, BI5 2TT, U.K.
Abstract. The patterns of variation in water quality for an acidic stream draining plantation forest overlying acidic and acid sensitive gley soils with shale and slate bedrock changed following the introduction of a 45 m deep borchole near to the stream. During drilling, air flushing of debris from the borehole cleared fracture routes for groundwater penetration to the stream via the stream bed. Consequently, there were and there remain marked increases in pH, alkalinity and calcium concentrations in the stream water. The extent of this water quality improvement varies according to flow. Under extreme highfiow conditions, most of the stream water is supplied from near surface soil water sources and acidic stream waters (pH about 4.2) result. Under baseflow conditions, the stream water pH is about 7.0 upstream and about 7.5 downstream of the borehole. Under intermediate flow conditions, the improvement in pH is most marked and values increase from around 5 to around 6.3. For acid sensitive "hard rock" areas such as those studied here, the bedrock has frequently been assumed to be both impermeable and low in base cations. This study illustrates that this view may be incorrect, and that groundwater may provide an important modifier of streamwater quality, at least for slate and shale dominated hard rock areas. Indeed, the work demonstrates clearly the potential for water quality remediation through groundwater manipulation.