Going Underground for Source Water Protection: Evaluating Lab-Scale Electrokinetic Barriers against Saltwater Intrusion


In the United States, the population density of coastal shoreline counties is over six times greater than the corresponding inland counties. In 2010, 123.3 million people, or 39% of the nation's population, lived in counties directly on the shoreline. This population is expected to increase 8% from 2010 to 2020. The quality of the water in rivers that brings runoff water to coastal areas often does not reach the required standards to be used as a source for drinking water treatment plants due to technical and economic reasons. Therefore, groundwater is the preferred source to meet ever increasing water demand by growing populations in coastal areas. Higher groundwater withdrawal in coastal areas results in higher saltwater intrusion. This project explored electrokinetic barriers against saltwater intrusion at a lab-scale. Specific experimental procedures were adopted to have a uniform background among all experiments in order to focus on measurement of experimental variables. Efficacy of applied voltages, pH levels, and types of electrode materials were studied in creating a barrier that allows water and selected ions to pass through, but blocks certain ions in a way that reduces the salt intrusion and protects ground water. Porosity of sand, salt concentration, separation of electrodes, and water content of sand in experimental setup are some of variables that influenced the way experiments were conducted as a part of this study. The poster provides a graphic summary of experimental methods and results of this study.

Meeting Name

World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2019 (2019: May 19-23, Pittsburgh, PA)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Water treatment plants; Water quality; Underground structures; Shoreline; Soil analysis; Groundwater; Soil water; Sea water; Laboratory tests; Salt water intrusion; Electrokinetics; United States

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2019 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

23 May 2019