Factors affecting public-supply well vulnerability in two karst aquifers

Ground Water
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Abstract

Karst aquifers occur in a range of climatic and geologic settings. Nonetheless, they are commonly characterized by their vulnerability to water-quality impairment. Two karst aquifers, the Edwards aquifer in south-central Texas and the Upper Floridan aquifer in western Florida, were investigated to assess factors that control the movement of contaminants to public-supply wells (PSWs). The geochemistry of samples from a selected PSW or wellfield in each aquifer was compared with that from nearby monitoring wells and regional PSWs. Geochemistry results were integrated with age tracers, flow modeling, and depth-dependent data to refine aquifer conceptual models and to identify factors that affect contaminant movement to PSWs. The oxic Edwards aquifer is vertically well mixed at the selected PSW/wellfield, although regionally the aquifer is geochemically variable downdip. The mostly anoxic Upper Floridan aquifer is affected by denitrification and also is geochemically variable with depth. In spite of considerable differences in geology and hydrogeology, the two aquifers are similarly vulnerable to anthropogenic contamination. Vulnerability in studied PSWs in both aquifers is strongly influenced by rapid karst flowpaths and the dominance of young (<10 years) groundwater. Vulnerability was demonstrated by the frequent detection of similar constituents of concern in both aquifers (nitrate, atrazine, deethylatrazine, tetrachloroethene, and chloroform). Specific consideration of water-quality protection efforts, well construction and placement, and aquifer response times to land-use changes and contaminant loading are discussed, with implications for karst groundwater management.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Factors affecting public-supply well vulnerability in two karst aquifers
Series title Ground Water
DOI 10.1111/gwat.12201
Volume 52
Issue 1
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher National Ground Water Association
Publisher location Westerville, OH
Contributing office(s) Texas Water Science Center
Description 13 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Ground Water
First page 63
Last page 75