Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2017LA114B

Coupled chemical and hydraulic impacts of saltwater intrusion on the fate and transport of spilled chemicals in the Mississippi River

Institute: Louisiana
Year Established: 2017 Start Date: 2017-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $15,400 Total Non-Federal Funds: $37,680

Principal Investigators: Zimeng Wang

Abstract: The southeastern Louisiana section of the Mississippi River connects the riverine and oceanic transportations and is vulnerable to chemical spills due to the complicated hydraulic conditions and the frequent natural hazards in this region. Inland drought and sea level rise has caused increasing saltwater intrusion in the Mississippi River. Saltwater intrusion can retard the migration of the contaminants through the river and can also profoundly impact various chemical fate pathways of the contaminants including dissolution, volatilization, partitioning and degradation. Environmental chemistry studies can provide input parameters for chemical fates to simulate chemical spill migrations in riverine system, but in the context of saltwater intrusion the chemical fate model and river hydraulic model need to be coupled with the variable of salinity. To fill in this gap, we propose an integrated approach combining environmental chemistry and river hydraulics. We will conduct wet chemistry experiments to obtain the critical input parameters for chemical fate models and built hydraulic models of saltwater intrusion. Using the model, the different influencing mechanisms of saltwater intrusion on contaminant fate and transport will be quantitatively evaluated using the waterway section between Baton Rouge and the estuary of the Mississippi River. The objectives of the project are to (1) gain an overview of the interactions between chemical spill occurrence and saltwater creeping through datamining of publically assessable reports and database; (2) build the river hydraulics model of the waterway incorporated with contaminant fates of representative spilled chemicals; (3) experimentally evaluate the impact of salinity on contaminant fate pathways based on field sampling and laboratory analysis; and (4) simulate hypothetical spill scenarios in the waterway under the influence of saltwater intrusion and assess the different chemical and hydraulic mechanisms that enhance or retard contaminant migration. The established platform will be ready to serve the decision maker in case of riverine chemical spills as a useful fast-response took kit. The results obtained from the proposed project will serve as the basis for the PI to establish nationally competitive collaborations and pursue further federal research funding, such as USGS, NOAA, and EPA.