The effects of tidal buffering on acid sulphate soil environments in coastal areas of New South Wales
One-way floodgates installed on flood mitigation drains in regions affected by acid sulphate soils restrict carbonate/bicarbonate buffering, thereby creating reservoirs of acid water (pH < 4.5) that discharge during the ebb tide. The drain water quality and hydrodynamic conditions prior to and following floodgate modifications that allowed for controlled saline intrusion are described with reference to data collected from intensively drained and floodgated coastal lowlands located in southeastern New SouthWales, Australia. Cl:SO4 ratios taken from groundwater samples depicted an acidic environment with little soil buffering capacity. Prior to modification, water quality upstream of the one-way floodgate was consistently acidic (average pH 4.6) with high concentrations of aluminum and iron that fluctuated with precipitation. Over a two-week period before modifications, floodgate leakage permitted alkaline water to intrude upstream of the floodgate and react with H+ions. This period showed the strongest supporting field evidence for tidal buffering via modified floodgates. After installing vertical lifting, two-way floodgates average drain water pH increased to 5.89 and aluminum and iron concentrations decreased by more than 30%. A large rainfall (131.8mm) during the post-modification period caused acidic groundwater flushing, however, in comparison to the pre-modification period, recovery time and average pH were markedly improved. Preliminary investigations of groundwater salinity in response to tidal intrusion has shown that electrical conductivity fluctuates with rainfall and it is predominately limited to 10 m perpendicular to the drain.