The lower Illinois River Basin (LIRB) covers 47,000 km2 of central and western Illinois. In the LIRB, 90% of the ground water supplies are from the deep and shallow glacial drift aquifers. The deep glacial drift aquifer (DGDA) is below 152 m altitude, a sand and gravel deposit that fills the Mahomet Buried Bedrock Valley, and overlain by more than 30.5 m of clayey till. The LIRB is part of the USGS National Water Quality Assessment program, which has an objective to describe the status and trends of surface and ground water quality. In the DGDA, 55 % of the wells used for public drinking-water supply and 43 % of the wells used for domestic drinking water supply have arsenic concentrations above 10 ??g/L (a new U.S. EPA drinking water standard). Arsenic concentrations greater than 25 ??g/L in ground water are mostly in the form of arsenite (AsIII). The proportion of arsenate (AsV) to arsenite does not change along the flowpath of the DGDA. Because of the limited number of arsenic species analyses, no clear relations between species and other trace elements, major ions, or physical parameters could be established. Arsenic and barium concentrations increase from east to west in the DGDA and are positively correlated. Chloride and arsenic are positively correlated and provide evidence that arsenic may be derived locally from underlying bedrock. Solid phase geochemical analysis of the till, sand and gravel, and bedrock show the highest presence of arsenic in the underlying organic-rich carbonate bedrock. The black shale or coal within the organic-rich carbonate bedrock is a potential source of arsenic. Most high arsenic concentrations found in the DGDA are west and downgradient of the bedrock structural features. Geologic structures in the bedrock are potential pathways for recharge to the DGDA from surrounding bedrock.
Additional publication details
Arsenic in glacial drift aquifers and the implication for drinking water - Lower Illinois River Basin