Overview of the WIPP groundwater monitoring programs with inferences about karst in the WIPP vicinity
Michael B. Hillesheim, Richard L. Beauheim, and Ron G. Richardson
The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), located in southeast New Mexico, is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) facility designed for the safe disposal of transuranic wastes resulting from U.S. defense programs. As part of the compliance certification process with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), groundwater monitoring programs have been established to measure changes in water level as well as chemical and physical properties of the water. The monitoring network currently consists of 63 wells situated in and around the WIPP vicinity. Of these, 49 are completed to the Culebra Dolomite Member of the Permian Rustler Formation, the most transmissive hydrologic unit in the WIPP vicinity. Comparison of Culebra water-level records with precipitation records indicates that there is a local area of recharge in the vicinity of WIPP, namely Nash Draw (~8 km west of WIPP). Recharge, in turn, appears to be driven by intense rainfall events (>60 mm) of short duration (<48 hrs). The limited response observed in Culebra wells spread over the WIPP site to such rainfall events does not support the suggestion that karst exists in the vicinity of WIPP, except in Nash Draw.
- Hillesheim, Michael B.; Beauheim, Richard L.; Richardson, Ron G., 2006, Overview of the WIPP groundwater monitoring programs with inferences about karst in the WIPP vicinity, in: Caves and karst of southeastern New Mexico, Land, Lewis; Lueth, Virgil W.; Raatz, William; Boston, Penny; Love, David L., New Mexico Geological Society, Guidebook, 57th Field Conference, pp. 277-286.