Evaporation Pond Groundwater Control

Mine and Mineral Processing Site
Wyoming

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Evaporation Pond Groundwater Control4
Trihydro is providing hydrogeologic and engineering services for an ongoing project to address groundwater impacts at a mine and mineral processing site in Wyoming. The high total dissolved solids (TDS) wastewater produced during processing is disposed of in large evaporation ponds located along a nearby drainage. Leakage from these ponds has resulted in groundwater impacts. The focus of Trihydro’s involvement has been an assessment of the extent and migration pathways of high TDS groundwater plumes at the site, the development of defensible calculations of salt loading to an adjacent river, and the design and implementation of engineering improvements to two groundwater capture systems at the site to enhance their effectiveness and reliability.  

The geologic and hydrogeologic environment has been investigated near operating evaporation ponds used by the facility to manage high TDS groundwater.  A conceptual model for the leakage and migration of high TDS groundwater water was developed and plume mapping was conducted to define the downgradient extent of high TDS groundwater.  This work was successful in showing that the shallow plume downgradient of the facility’s evaporation ponds in one drainage did not extend to the river.  

In tandem with these activities, Trihydro is also supporting a re-evaluation of the site-wide groundwater monitoring network. This work is focused on eliminating monitoring wells that may be resulting in the collection of misleading or erroneous groundwater data. In addition, Trihydro has guided a revision in the groundwater monitoring program that has considerably reduced costs through the use of inexpensive field parameter measurement in lieu of the collection of groundwater samples for laboratory analysis.
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A conceptual model for the leakage and migration of high TDS groundwater was developed and plume mapping was conducted to define the downgradient extent of the water.  The results were successful in showing that the shallow plume downgradient of the facility’s evaporation ponds in one drainage did not extend to a nearby river.