Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2018KY281B

Developing a Threat Assessment and Monitoring Framework for Urban Karst

Institute: Kentucky
Year Established: 2018 Start Date: 2018-03-01 End Date: 2019-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $4,999 Total Non-Federal Funds: $11,216

Principal Investigators: Jason Polk, Rachel Kaiser

Abstract: In urban karst areas, such as the City of Bowling Green, Kentucky (CoBG), groundwater quality faces a variety of threats that impact the environment and communities residing in those areas. The development of residential, commercial, and industrial landuse types allows for a wide variety of groundwater pollutants to enter the karst groundwater systems. Various different models and indices, including the Karst Disturbance Index (KDI), Karst Aquifer Vulnerability Index (KAVI), and the Karst Sustainability Index (KSI), have attempted evaluative approaches to identify issues in urban karst areas, but the methods vary by location and lack a focus on urban karst groundwater quality. Most models and methods address the general impacts urbanization has on karst environments, but none fully address the intersection of groundwater quality and urbanization, thus making them incomplete and not useful at certain scales; almost none provide solutions for mitigating identified issues. Not only do many approaches neglect urban karst environments specifically, but also lack a focused, data-driven approach that is able to capture short- and long-term changes in threats to groundwater quality as a result of urbanization and the implementation of best management practices (BMPs). The overall purpose of this study is to develop a holistic, data-driven threat assessment and monitoring framework for urban karst groundwater systems, using the CoBG as a case study, to better determine the possible threats, data collection needs, monitoring parameters, and analytical approaches needed to ensure groundwater quality is maintained in urban karst regions. The scope of this phase of the project will address the first component of the framework, which is evaluating the existing indices and literature, as well as historical and modern data, to establish criteria for the evaluation and scoring of monitoring sites used in the framework’s development. This study will focus on the following research questions: 1) What indicators, parameters, and data quality need to be prioritized to create an effective, holistic monitoring framework for urban karst groundwater? and 2) Can an effective threat assessment and evaluative framework for urban karst groundwater quality be developed from historic and modern data in an urban karst setting? The objectives include an index and evaluation tool review, historical data evaluation and review, and primary data collection in the City of Bowling Green. These involve the analysis of existing models, indices, literature, and historic data, to develop evaluative criteria and scoring for a Karst Feature Inventory (KFI), and the development of a monitoring and sampling strategy, and then approximately six months of continuous weekly monitoring and data analysis for selected sites and parameters to validate the criteria and scoring system. The results of this study will include completing the first steps of developing a framework by producing evaluative criteria and scoring for existing index and historical data and conducting primary data collection in the CoBG to determine the inputs and scoring methods for future development of the full framework. The results will be used to create a data-driven urban karst groundwater threat assessment and monitoring framework that can be used universally.