Implications of observed and simulated ambient flow in monitoring wells

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The authors of this paper present compelling evidence that conventional monitoring wells act as vertical conduits whenever vertical hydraulic gradients are present (i.e., at most sites). Vertical flow within wells due to natural hydraulic gradients not only makes it impossible to accurately define the vertical distribution of dissolved contaminants within the aquifer, but it can transport contaminants to portions of the aquifer that were previously uncontaminated. The authors state that “We must agree with the early warning of Reilly et al. (1989) to abandon or phase out the use of long-screened monitoring wells for ground water sampling.”

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