Expert Systems For Ground Water Management

A. K. M. M. Chowdhury
Larry W. Canter

DOI: 10.2190/FAQ7-2QL5-PPKN-F9KR


Ground water management via protection and remediation has been of special concern for several years due to the extensive usage of ground water resources as water supplies, and to impaired ground water quality resulting from a variety of societal activities and practices. Because of the complex and poorly understood mechanisms of subsurface transport and fate, subjective judgment or heuristic knowledge is often applied in ground water management; thus, this is a suitable domain for expert systems applications. Expert systems refer to computer programs that encode the knowledge and reasoning used by a variety of specialists to solve difficult problems in narrowly defined domains. They rely more on heuristic rules-of-thumb and pattern matching rather than numerical models and algorithms. Included herein is a delineation of thirty-nine such systems related to different facets of ground water management. Most of the systems are focused on hazardous waste site risk assessment and cleanup activities. Nine systems are briefly described to provide a range of illustrations; they include: 1) the RPI Site Assessment System to characterize hazardous waste sites, 2) DEMOTOX for the assessment of the contamination potential of organic chemicals at waste sites, 3) HAWAMAX to assess and minimize risk from hazardous waste sites, 4) Defense Priority Model (DPM) for ranking of waste sites based upon their relative risk to human health and the environment, 5) WASES to identify and prioritize the contaminant sources in wellhead protection areas, 6) EXPRES to assess the potential for pesticides to contaminate ground water, 7) ESES to assist in designing a sampling plan, and selection of sampling techniques for soil and ground water contaminants, 8) CORA for remedial technology selection and cost estimation for cleanup of Superfund sites, and 9) SEPIC for issuing permits for on-site private sewage disposal systems. Validation is a critical step in the development of an expert system, with such validation enhancing its usage. Field applications and hands-on training opportunities are expected to lead to further refinements in existing systems and the development of new applications. of critical importance in the development of an expert system are the numbers and types of involved experts, and the approach used to develop the knowledge base. This information, along with usage information, software costs, completeness of system documentation, and thoroughness of system rules, would be useful in selecting an expert system for meeting a particular need.

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