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Hydrogeology and water quality of the Nutmeg Valley area, Wolcott and Waterbury, Connecticut

Water-Resources Investigations Report 99-4081

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Abstract

Hydrogeologic investigations in an industrial area in Wolcott and Waterbury, Connecticut, have provided information on the geology, ground-water flow, and water quality of the area. Ground-water contamination by volatile organic compounds was discovered in the 1980?s in the Nutmeg Valley area, where approximately 43 industries and 25 residences use ground water for industrial and domestic supply. Unconsolidated surficial deposits, including glacial stratified deposits and till, are more than 85 feet thick and are interconnected with the underlying bedrock. The horizontal hydraulic conductivity of the stratified deposits ranges from 0.8 to 21 feet per day. Water in the surficial aquifer generally flows toward discharge points along Old Tannery Brook and the Mad River. Water in the bedrock aquifer flows through low-angle unroofing joints, high-angle fractures, and foliation-parallel fractures. Most high-angle water-bearing fractures strike north with an easterly dip. Most of the water pumped from bedrock wells in the study area comes from shallow fractures that are probably in hydraulic connection with the surficial aquifer. Short-circuit flow between fracture zones in wells is a likely pathway for contaminant transport. During periods of low streamflow, only a small amount of ground water discharges directly to Old Tannery Brook or to the Mad River. The amount of discharge is on the same order of magnitude as the estimated ground-water withdrawals. In northern parts of the valley bottom within the study area, downward vertical hydraulic gradients were present between wells in the surficial and bedrock aquifers. In southern parts of the valley, however, vertical gradients were upward from the bedrock to the surficial aquifer. Vertical gradients can change seasonally in response to different amounts of ground-water recharge and to stresses caused by ground-water withdrawals, which can in turn facilitate the spread of contamination. Vapor-diffusion samplers were installed in streambeds to identify zones where water containing volatile organic compounds was discharging to streams in the study area. Three areas with high vapor concentrations of trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene were identified. Concentrations of trichloroethene as high as 30,000 parts per billion by volume were detected. Three of 44 wells sampled contained concentrations of volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene, above primary drinking water standards. Based on the findings of this and previous investigations, water in the bedrock aquifer in the southern part of the study area is likely to contain trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, and 1,1,1-trichloroethane. Volatile organic compounds also were detected in stream samples from the downstream end of Old Tannery Brook and the Mad River. Concentrations of major ions and trace elements (with one exception) did not exceed primary drinking water standards in any ground-water or surface-water samples collected. Ground-water samples collected downgradient from the Waterbury North End Disposal Area contained ethyl ether, chlorobenzene, and elevated concentrations of dissolved solids, similar to samples of landfill leachate and groundwater samples collected from springs and wells adjacent to the landfill.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Hydrogeology and water quality of the Nutmeg Valley area, Wolcott and Waterbury, Connecticut
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
99-4081
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1999
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey ; Branch of Information Services [distributor],
Description:
vi, 90 p. :ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ;28 cm. [PGS - 89 p.]