KWIs role in the study of karst:
The major environmental issue in land use since 2000 is water quality and supply. Since karst aquifers provide a large portion of the water supply for this country, our understanding of them is especially important. Karst regions are prominent in our concern about water resources because they are poorly understood and easily polluted.
Applied problems of karst terrains include the catastrophic collapse of roads and structures into sinkholes, the rapid migration of contaminated groundwater, and the general unsuitability of conventional groundwater investigative techniques to the study of karst flow systems.
Scientific research questions that must be answered so that we my solve the problems of water resources in karst regions include:
- How are surface water and ground water interconnected?
- How are the dramatic physical heterogeneities in karst aquifers be characterized?
- How can the temporal variability of groundwater quantity and quality be predicted?
- How are contaminant chemicals modified by the action of bacteria?
- How are contaminants transported through karst aquifers?
- How does environmental contamination impact organisms living in aquifers and caves?
Environmental scientists at the Karst Waters Institute are using a multidisciplinary approach to achieve a better understanding of our role in utilizing and protecting the natural resources unique to karst terrains. Academic, governmental, and private-sector specialists have joined together to solve existing environmental problems and assist in planning for utilization of land and water resources in karst areas in the future. Resources and expertise at the Karst Waters Institute can be brought to bear on the significant applied and theoretical problems of karst areas.