An innovative Intelligent Space Tube Optimization (ISTO) two-stage approach facilitates solving complex nonlinear flow and contaminant transport management problems. It reduces computational effort of designing optimal ground water remediation systems and strategies for an assumed set of wells. ISTO’s stage 1 defines an adaptive mobile space tube that lengthens toward the optimal solution. The space tube has overlapping multidimensional subspaces. Stage 1 generates several strategies within the space tube, trains neural surrogate simulators (NSS) using the limited space tube data, and optimizes using an advanced genetic algorithm (AGA) with NSS. Stage 1 speeds evaluating assumed well locations and combinations. For a large complex plume of solvents and explosives, ISTO stage 1 reaches within 10% of the optimal solution 25% faster than an efficient AGA coupled with comprehensive tabu search (AGCT) does by itself. ISTO input parameters include space tube radius and number of strategies used to train NSS per cycle. Larger radii can speed convergence to optimality for optimizations that achieve it but might increase the number of optimizations reaching it. ISTO stage 2 automatically refines the NSS-AGA stage 1 optimal strategy using heuristic optimization (we used AGCT), without using NSS surrogates. Stage 2 explores the entire solution space. ISTO is applicable for many heuristic optimization settings in which the numerical simulator is computationally intensive, and one would like to reduce that burden.