GIS Integrated Models for Estimating Exposure to Volatile Organic Compound from Municipal Water-Supply Systems

Dr. Mustafa M. Aral
Multimedia Environmental Simulations Laboratory
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta, Georgia 30332

Mr. Morris L. Maslia
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Atlanta, Georgia

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The Southington, Connecticut, water distribution system is characterized by a distribution network that contains more than 1700 pipeline segments of varying diameters and construction materials, more than 186 mi (299 km) of pipe, 9 groundwater extraction wells capable of pumping more than 4700 gal/min (0.296 m3/s), and 3 municipal reservoirs. Volatile organic compounds, which contaminated the underlying groundwater reservoir during the 1970's, contaminated the water-supply system and exposed the town’s residents to volatile organic chemicals. We applied a computational model to the water-supply system to characterize and quantify the distribution of volatile organic compounds in the pipelines, from which we estimated the demographic distribution of potential exposure to town’s residents. Based on results from modeling and analyses, we concluded the following: (a) exposure to volatile organic compound contamination may vary significantly from one census block to another, even when these census blocks are adjacent to other within a specific radius; (b) maximum spatial spread of contamination in a water-distribution system may not occur under peak demand conditions, and, therefore, maximum spatial distribution of the exposed population also may not correspond to peak demand conditions; and (c) use of the proposed GIS integrated computational tool allows for a more refined and rigorous methodology with which to estimate census-block-level contamination for exposure assessment and epidemiology studies.


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