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Water samples were collected from August through November 2000 from 30 randomly selected public drinking-water supply wells screened in the unconfined aquifer in Delaware, and analyzed to assess the occurrence and distribution of selected pesticide compounds, volatile organic compounds, major inorganic ions, and nutrients. Water from a subset of 10 wells was sampled and analyzed for radium and radon. The average age of ground water entering the well screens in all the wells was determined to be generally less than 20 years.
Low concentrations of pesticide compounds and volatile organic compounds were detected throughout the State of Delaware, with several compounds often detected in each water sample. Pesticide and metabolite (pesticide degradation products) concentrations were generally less than 1 microgram per liter, and were detected in sam-ples from 27 of 30 wells. Of the 45 pesticides and 13 metabolites analyzed, 19 compounds (13 pesticides and 6 metabolites) were detected in at least 1 of the 30 samples. Desethylatrazine, alachlor ethane sulfonic acid, metolachlor ethane sulfonic acid, metolachlor, and atrazine were the most frequently detected pesticide compounds, and were present in at least half the samples. None of the pesticide detections was above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels or Health Advisories. Volatile organic compounds also were present at low concentrations (generally less than 1 microgram per liter) in samples from all 30 wells. Of the 85 volatile organic com-pounds analyzed, 34 compounds were detected in at least 1 of the 30 samples. Chloroform, tetrachloroethene, and methyl tert-butyl ether were the most frequently detected volatile organic compounds, and were found in at least half the samples. None of the volatile organic compound detections was above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels or Health Advisories.
A few samples contained compounds with concentrations above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels or Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels for inorganic compounds and radionuclides. One sample out of 30 contained a concentration of nitrite plus nitrate above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Primary Maximum Contaminant Level of 10 milligrams per liter as nitrogen. Iron and manganese concentrations above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels were found in 7 of 30 ground-water samples, most of them from Sussex County. In the 10 wells sampled for radionuclides, only one sample had detectable levels of radium-224 and -226, and another sample contained detectable levels of radium-228; both of these samples also had detectable gross-alpha and gross-beta activities. None of these activities were above the U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency's Primary Maximum Contaminant Levels or Secondary Maximum Contaminant Levels. Radon was detected in all 10 samples, but was above the current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Primary Maximum Contaminant Level of 300 picocuries per liter in only one sample.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Occurrence and distribution of selected contaminants in public drinking-water supplies in the surficial aquifer in Delaware