Area-oriented groundwater and soil management
“The whole is more than the sum of its parts.”


Complex contaminations: a real challenge

These days the revival of old industrial buildings for new purposes is trending.  These often rough and historic constructions are the perfect décor for big parties, trendy restaurants, fancy hotels and edgy art expositions.

For many local governments the remains of past entrepreneurship, like industry, dry cleaners and petrol stations are far less romantic. They are confronted with large-scale pollution of groundwater and soil, of a complexity in which traditional remediation will not have the desired effect. Such areas are like a black box. In many cases the local government has to cover an important part of the clean-up costs. Overall it’s an undesirable situation, which can turn out to be a real pain in the neck for local authorities.

Not intervening is not an option. These contaminations can cause considerable risks to the environment and public health. Also spatial planning, heat/cold storages or abstraction of drinking water could be endangered. Furthermore there’s a growing need for using the groundwater system to help absorb the increasing amount of rainfall as a result of climate changes.

Addressing multiple environmental issues simultaneously

For complex contamination and environmental issues Bioclear earth developed the area-oriented ground water and soil management approach. As the Greek philosopher Aristotle said: the whole is more than the sum of its parts. By taking measurements for a whole area we can control the spreading of contaminations.  We achieve this through the combination of biology and technology, known as eco-engineering. Eco-engineering gives us the opportunity to address multiple environmental issues at the same time, for instance improving water quality, climate adaptation, biodiversity and urban liveability.

Based on a thorough risk assessment we make an inventory of the various polluted areas and their coherence. When source zone and plume remediation is the most effective approach to reduce the risk, this will be a part of the strategy. Low risk contaminations can be supervised through a well-conceived monitoring system or managed by using phytoremediation for decontamination of heavy metals and degradation of pollutants.



Bioclear earth has developed a roadmap based on our knowledge and experience with substantive and procedural coaching of complex contamination issues, adapting the areal oriented groundwater and soil approach:



  • Step 1   Formulating a collective goal for the management of groundwater. It’s very important to involve all stakeholders in the decision-making process.
  • Step 2   Bioclear earth will work out several scenarios with a transparent cost and benefits balance. Based on these scenarios, well founded and sustainable decisions can be made.
  • Step 3   We support the implementation and execution.

Area-oriented approach of diffuse contaminations

In case of diffuse contamination of groundwater, for instance through the use of pesticides, medical residues and leaching of fertilizer, the area-oriented approach is very effective.

Groundwater freely flows and doesn’t pay attention to our artificial municipal boundaries, that is why it’s of the utmost importance to involve all stakeholders, like water control boards, counties and districts in this process, from the very beginning. Knowledge, ambitions and challenges can be shared that way.

By looking at the area as a system, we can determine which cohesive measurements must be taken to minimize the risk and to optimally use and protect the groundwater system. Eco-engineering concepts play an important part in the solutions that Bioclear earth offers in solving the problems of diffuse contaminations.

Would you like to know more on this subject? Please contact Maurice Henssen.


Maurice Henssen
Senior consultant strategic projects