| Project objectives:
The present project will develop an integrated methodology contributing to a more comprehensive risk assessment of contaminated sites on water resources
and ecosystems based on a combination of the ‘Source – Pathway – Receptor’ approach for conceptualizing the physical system and on the European Environmental
Agency (EEA) DPSIR concept (Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Response) for integrating the physical and socio-economical components of the analysis
into an efficient decision support system for risk analysis.
Specific objectives are: (1) to develop a modeling approach for accurately calculating water and contaminant fluxes at various scales, from catchment
scale to the contaminant plume; (2) to quantify and to model biogeochemical processes affecting the mobility (speciation), retardation and reactivity of
various organic and inorganic contaminants in the environment, through water resources; (3) to validate risk assessment methodologies using datasets coming
from representative contaminated sites in Belgium and to develop a flux-based risk assessment indicator for evaluating the impact of contaminants on water
resources (groundwater vulnerability) and on aquatic ecosystems (ecotoxicological risk) in relation with the management and cleaning of contaminated
sites; (4) to evaluate uncertainty in the modeling of contaminant transport caused by spatial variation in sub-surface and surface land characteristics
and especially to evaluate impacts of uncertainty in the mapping of land-cover characteristics; (5) to develop decision support tools for planning and evaluating
integrated management measures aiming at reducing short and long-term impacts of contaminants.
Pilot case studies will be selected in Belgium to apply and to evaluate the developed models and guidelines at various scales
The DPSIR methodology will be considered as a general organizational framework for the project. The DPSIR methodology presents a chain of causal links
between Driving forces (economic sectors, human activities), Pressures (emissions, waste), States (physical, chemical and biological state of the resource)
and Impacts on ecosystems, human health and natural resources. This leads to Responses such as prioritization, target setting and indicators. The project
combines on the one hand process studies contributing to a more comprehensive assessment and modeling of water and contaminant fluxes at various scales (local
and catchment) and of biogeochemical properties and toxicity of contaminants, on the other hand impact studies such as risk assessment methodologies so as
to propose management tools and indicators for ranking contaminated sites in terms of risks and costs. In the present context, research activities will focus
on the P-S-I chain.
Interaction between the different partners
The various research groups participating to the project are very complementary with respect to the project’s general and specific objectives. Researches
will be developed through a strong collaboration of hydro(geo)logists, soil scientists, ecotoxicologists, remote sensing specialists and socio-economists.
The project will be structured in 6 work packages: WP1: Project coordination, management and integration (ULg-HG + contributions from other partners);
WP2: Catchment scale water and contaminant budgeting and routing (VUB + ULg-HG); WP3: Contaminant behaviour and impact (VITO + ULg-LEAE); WP4: Risk Assessment
tools and indicators (ULg-HG + ULg-LEAE + SPAQuE); WP5: Socio-economic analysis to support risk assessment and risk management of contaminated sites (BRGM);
WP6: Test sites (all partners).
Aquapôle ULg-HG will appoint Dr. ir Serge Brouyère as the project manager, who will be assisted by a management committee made of all the team leaders.
Expected results and/or products
Exploitation of the anticipated results will concern several aspects. Scientific aspects will include publication of peer-reviewed papers, participation
in international meetings, organization of a Belgian workshop and specific reports to relevant regional, federal or international authorities. Industrial
aspects will provide contaminated site managers with more efficient methodologies and tools for the screening of contaminated sites in terms of both risk
and costs. Vulgarization actions will also include the creation of a website presenting the research and its main outcomes.
Activities: (1) ULg-HG: characterisation of groundwater resources in terms of quantity and quality groundwater vulnerability and risk, groundwater
modelling with the use of modern tools for field investigations and desktop computations; (2) ULg-LEAE: assessment of freshwater quality following local
point source of pollution, using bioindicator organisms and biochemical exposure, and effects biomarkers; (3) VITO: development of biostimulation and
bioaugmentation processes in order to maximize the natural attenuation capacity of soil and groundwater and to decrease the remediation costs; (4) VUB: numerical
modelling and computer applications in hydrology and integrated water management at catchment scale; (5) BRGM: specialized in economic evaluation of water