Advancing Groundwater Restoration Research with Oral History Content, Methods, and Analysis
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Despite great efforts and advancements in Groundwater remediation/restoration (GR) since the passage of the Superfund legislation in the U.S., many sites have still have not been cleaned up to drinking water standards or to a status of unlimited use/unlimited exposure (UU/UE). While overcoming technical obstacles to full cleanup remains a central focus of practitioners, there are a number of policy, legal, political, and local community issues that may hold equal if not more weight when it comes to real-world decision making and site management. The GR community, technical and non-technical, has experience and insights about many aspects of the field that are not bounded by their particular professional roles. As an exploratory research technique, oral history (OH) was used to focus more directly on the experience(s) of a full spectrum of GR stakeholders, including community members, site owners, regulators, consultants, etc., to understand better a central research question: why does contaminated groundwater take so long to clean up?Digital work environments have allowed timecode-based indexing methods to emerge for more efficient processing and data mapping of oral histories. Oral history digital indexing (OHDI) is a practice and process that includes the use of software tools for interviewing, reviewing, analyzing, and thematically coding OH content for retrieval of passages across a collection, by topic. For the OH in GR project, OHDI was used to develop a “code frame” to organize 221 terms used to encode 538 GR interview passages, subsequently accessed for the research presented here.