A Civil Action - The Woburn Toxic Trial > Instructor Materials > Module 6 - Flooding

Flooding

How to use this module

The defense employed a "it's not just us" approach to their arguments regarding potential sources of contaminants throughout the Aberjona River Valley and in the Horn Pond area. Paula DiPerna wrote of the Woburn contamination in her book 'Cluster Mystery: Epidemic and the children of Woburn, Mass.' in 1985. In chapters 6 and 7 of her book she chronicled the abundant industrial pollution that occurred in the Aberjona River Valley since the early 1700s and how there was likely multiple sources of carcinogens within the Aberjona Valley. Dr. Joel Tarr was contracted by W. R. Grace to prepare 'A History of Pollution in Woburn', the report was prepared in July 1987 as part of W.R. Grace's effort to cast doubt on the air being one of the three most significant polluters of groundwater captured by Wells G. and H. Both the DiPerna and Tarr publications describe the wide distribution of contaminants throughout the Aberjona Valley in the vicinity of Woburn. Their records document pollution from manufacturing activities from the 18th century. Both question how flooding of the Aberjona has redistributed contaminants through out floodplain so that origins of contaminants cannot be defined. To help students understand how flooding could redistribute contaminants in a watershed, this module discusses how flooding occurs, how floods are classified and how floodwater's can redistribute sediments and debris along the floodplain. This module also describes how floodplains are typically connected to groundwater flows. This module, in conjunction with Module 5- Groundwater Flow and Module 7-Induced Infiltration provides users with tools needed to understand and assess the potential for redistributing materials in the floodplain via flooding and how dissolved portions of materials can be introduced into the water table by pumping induced infiltration..

Module design perspective

This module uses existing publications from the USGS and the Army Corps of Engineers regarding flooding affects and classifications. The users are guided to basic overviews provided by those agencies can understand flooding and flooding concepts. The module also direct students to the 'real-time' data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in conjunction with the USGS so they can view graphs showing the relation between rainfall, river stage and flow for the Aberjona River. The NOAA and USGS databases can provide the user with real-time as well as historic data to track flood waves and establish base flows. This data was key to the trial in defining what amount of groundwater was derived from the Aberjona River.

Activity Page

Flooding Activity Page

Student Assignment

Flooding Assignment

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