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Spatial and temporal distribution of specific conductance, boron, and phosphorus in a sewage-contaminated aquifer near Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Open-File Report 96-472

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Abstract

Spatial and temporal distributions of specific conductance, boron, and phosphorus were determined in a sewage-contaminated sand and gravel aquifer near Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The source of contamination is secondarily treated sewage that has been discharged onto rapid- infiltration sand beds at the Massachusetts Military Reservation since 1936. Contaminated ground water containing as much as 2 milligrams per liter of dissolved phosphorus is discharging into Ashumet Pond, and there is concern that the continued discharge of phosphorus into the pond will accelerate eutrophication of the pond. Water-quality data collected from observation wells and multilevel samplers from June through July 1995 were used to delineate the spatial distributions of specific conductance, boron, and phosphorus. Temporal distributions were determined using sample-interval-weighted average concen- trations calculated from data collected in 1993, 1994, and 1995. Specific conductances were greater than 400 microsiemens per centimeter at 25C as far as 1,200 feet downgradient from the infiltration beds. Boron concentrations were greater than 400 micrograms per liter as far as 1,800 feet down- gradient from the beds and phosphorus concen- trations were greater than 3.0 milligrams per liter as far as 1,200 feet from the beds. Variability in distributions of specific conductance and boron concentrations is attributed to the history and distribution of sewage disposal onto the infiltration beds. The distribution of phosphorus concentrations also is related to the history and distribution of sewage disposal onto the beds but additional variability is caused by chemical interactions with the aquifer materials. Temporal changes in specific conductance and boron from 1993 to 1995 were negligible, except in the lower part of the plume (below an altitude of about 5 feet above sea level), where changes in weighted-average specific conductance were greater than 100 microsiemens per centimeter at 25C. Temporal changes in phosphorus generally were small except in the lower part of the plume, where weighted-average phosphorus concentrations decreased more than 1.3 milligrams per liter from 1993 to 1994. This decrease was accompanied by an increase in specific conductance. High concen- trations of phosphorus associated with low and moderate specific conductances possibly are the result of rapid phosphorus desorption in response to an influx of uncontaminated ground water. As a result of the cessation of sewage disposal in December 1995, clean, oxygenated water moving into contaminated parts of the aquifer may cause rapid desorption of sorbed phosphorus and temporarily result in high dissolved phosphorus concentrations in the aquifer.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Spatial and temporal distribution of specific conductance, boron, and phosphorus in a sewage-contaminated aquifer near Ashumet Pond, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
96-472
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1996
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
Description:
iv, 44 p. :ill. ;28 cm.