U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

Ground-Water Circulating Wells


Circulating wells (CWs) provide a technique for subsurface remediation by creating a three-dimensional circulation pattern of the ground water. Ground Water is drawn into a well through one screened section and is pumped through the well to a second screened section where it is reintroduced to the aquifer. The flow direction through the well can be specified as either upward or downward to accommodate site-specific conditions. Because ground water is not pumped above ground, pumping costs and permitting issues are reduced and eliminated, respectively. Also, the problems associated with storage and discharge are removed. In addition to ground water treatment, CW systems can provide simultaneous vadose zone treatment in the form of bioventing or soil vapor extraction.

CW systems can provide treatment inside the well, in the aquifer, or a combination of both. For effective in-well treatment, the contaminants must be adequately soluble and mobile so they can be transported by the circulating ground water. Because CW systems provide a wide range of treatment options, they provide some degree of flexibility to a remediation effort.

Adobe PDF LogoTechnology Overview Report: In-Well Vapor Stripping

In-well vapor stripping technology involves the creation of a ground-water circulation pattern and simultaneous aeration within the stripping well to volatilize VOCs from the circulating ground water. Air-lift pumping is used to lift ground water and strip it of contaminants. Contaminated vapors may be drawn off for aboveground treatment or released to the vadose zone for biodegradation. Partially treated ground water is forced out of the well into the vadose zone where it reinfiltrates to the water table. Untreated ground water enters the well at its base, replacing the water lifted through pumping. Eventually, the partially treated water is cycled back through the well through this process until contaminant concentration goals are met.

4.39 In-Well Air Stripping (In Situ Groundwater Remediation Technology)
Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix and Reference Guide, Version 4.0.
Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable.

Groundwater Recirculation Wells