Clement to present Williams Memorial Lecture

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Clement to present Williams Memorial Lecture

Prabhakar Clement

Prabhakar Clement, professor of environmental engineering at Auburn University, will present “Worthiness of Complex Groundwater Models for Decision Making —When Should We Say Enough is Enough?” at 3:30 p.m. April 22 in the Hardin Hall Auditorium. The seminar is free and open to the public.

Clement’s talk is the 2015 Williams Memorial Lecture, which is presented each year as part of the UNL Water and Natural Resources seminar. The lectures honor the memory of the late Alan G. and Irene Williams, whose estates benefit water resources programming at UNL.

The seminar is organized and presented by the Nebraska Water Center, School of Natural Resources, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and UNL. It is also partially funded by the Alan G. and Irene Williams Fund.

Complex mathematical models are routinely used by groundwater hydrologists to predict contaminant concentration levels in polluted aquifers. These predictions are then used in risk-assessment and epidemiological studies, which are often completed either for resolving a court case or for developing a public-policy solution. Typical groundwater modeling studies utilize a variety of mathematical models with complexity levels ranging from simple analytical solutions to detailed three-dimensional numerical solutions that simulate multi-phase, multi-species, reactive transport systems. The goal of this discussion is to explore the value of using complex numerical models to resolve large, field-scale, practical problems that have limited data.

Clement will review a chlorinated solvent contamination problem that occurred at a military site in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and will use it as an example to explore the limits of complex numerical modeling exercises. The lessons learned from the study will be used to reflect upon the following two questions related to model complexity: How should we decide how much is enough? Who should decide when enough is enough?

This presentation will be based on a project Clement reviewed while he served as a member of National Academy of Sciences and Engineering study. The goal of this congressionally mandated study was to review available scientific evidences on the association between adverse health effects and exposure to a contaminated water supply system at the U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The detailed NRC study was released in June 2009 and is currently available at

Also, a brief summary of various modeling issues related to this work was published in the following article: Clement, T.P. 2010. Complexities in Hindcasting Models—When should we say enough is enough? Ground Water, Vol. 49, No. 5 p. 620–629.

The Water Seminar series is organized and sponsored by the School of Natural Resources and the Nebraska Water Center, part of the Daugherty Water for Food Institute, with support from Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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