Vulnerability of groundwater resources in Bangladesh: The interplay between dense populations, geologic complexity, and large-scale arsenic contamination

  • Date

    October 26,2018

  • Time


  • Venue


  • Speaker

    Dr. Holly Michael Unidel Fraser Russell Career Development Chair in the Environment DENIN Associate Director for Environmental Initiatives

Widespread contamination of shallow groundwater with naturally-occurring arsenic in the
Bengal Basin threatens the health of tens of millions of people. We evaluate the sustainability
of deep, low-arsenic groundwater as a mitigation option with numerical models that
incorporate physical and chemical heterogeneity of the fluvio-deltaic aquifer system. Results
suggest that sustainability may be achieved in some areas by limiting deep pumping to
domestic supply, but also highlight the risks and uncertainty introduced by the interplay
between geologic complexity and groundwater extraction on a large scale.

Holly Michael holds a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and a PhD in
Hydrology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research interests include
water resource management, coastal hydrogeology, groundwater-surface water interactions,
and geostatistics. Some of her current projects include investigating groundwater flow into
estuaries, modeling groundwater salinization due to climate change, evaluating sustainability
of arsenic-safe groundwater in Bangladesh, and application of experimental economics to
groundwater resources.