Various physical and chemical properties were monitored sequentially in the field during well purging as indicators of stabilization of the composition of the water in the well. Turbidity was monitored on site during purging of oxic water from three wells with screened intervals open to an unconfined aquifer system in the Coastal Plain of southern New Jersey to determine if stabilization of turbidity is a reliable indicator of the optimum purge time required to collect unbiased trace element samples. Concurrent split (one filtered, one unfiltered) samples collected during purging of the wells were analyzed for concentrations of trace elements so that the relationships between trace element concentrations and turbidity could be compared. Turbidity correlated with the whole water recoverable (WWR) concentration of trace element species, such as iron (Fe), aluminum (Al), and manganese (Mn) in the oxic ground water. Turbidity appeared to be independent of other field-measured characteristics of water such as conductivity, pH, temperature, and dissolved oxygen. The WWR concentrations of lead and copper, considered to be hydrophobic, correlated significantly with the sum of the WWR concentration of Fe, Al, and Mn. High values of field-measured turbidity were a key indicator of an overestimate of ambient hydrophobic trace element WWR concentrations. Stabilization of turbidity was a better indicator of stable, unfiltered trace element concentrations than were the other commonly measured field characteristics. At one well, turbidity was a better indicator of stable, filtered trace element concentrations than the other commonly measured field characteristics. As analytical methods for trace elements improve resulting in smaller MRLs (method reporting levels) and better precision, turbidity of ground water at values of less than 10 NTU (nepheiometric turbidity units) will become important in interpreting the significance of both unfiltered and filtered sample results.
Additional Publication Details
Change in field turbidity and trace element concentrations during well purging