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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An approach to the management of groundwater pollution Walker, Daniel Arthur


This thesis considers the management of groundwater pollution as a societal and technical problem. It consists of four elements: theoretical foundation, conceptual model, management strategies, and compound model. The theoretical foundation recognizes two distinct approaches to management: the hard and soft paradigms. The hard paradigm deals with hard problems, characterized by well-defined boundaries, goals, and alternatives; quantifiable uncertainty; and a unilateral decision-maker. A hard problem can be addressed with algorithmic logic and linear procedure. The hard paradigm employs condensed conceptual models, and relies on transform models as predictive tools. (A conceptual model synthesizes observations; a transform model maps an input to an output.) The soft paradigm deals with soft problems, characterized by ambiguous boundaries, goals, and alternatives; nonquantifiable uncertainty; and multiple decision-makers. A soft problem requires argumentation and iterative procedure. The soft paradigm relies on detailed conceptual models, and employs transform models as heuristic tools. The two paradigms can be reconciled through the concept of soft/hard complementarity which views a problem as a soft problem in the overall sense, with embedded hard sub-problems. The conceptual model contains two major systems: the pollution system, consisting of groundwater flow and pollutant transport subsystems; and the management system, consisting of technical and decision subsystems. The emphasis is on the decision subsystem, which is described in terms of rules of governance; multiple issues; multiple stakeholders; and various decision processes. The management strategies include both decision and technical strategies. The decision strategies consist of three subsets: strategies for iterative decision-making; strategies for integration of the decision system; and strategies for emphasizing negotiation. The technical strategies deal with iterative technique; integration of the technical system; and design for mitigation. The compound model is called SAM (Simulated Aquifer Management). It consists of a set of transform models, joined by linkages which are either algorithmic or which require the modeler's subjective judgement. The technical system is represented by models of flow, transport, optimization of pumping rates, and costing of technical options. The decision system is represented a game theory model and a role-playing exercise. SAM is used as a heuristic device, and as illustration of both the management strategies and soft/hard complementarity.

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