Effects of physical and chemical heterogeneity on water-quality samples obtained from wells

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Factors that affect the mass of chemical constituents entering a well include the distributions of flow rate and chemical concentrations along and near the screened or open section of the well. Assuming a layered porous medium (with each layer being characterized by a uniform hydraulic conductivity and chemical concentration), a knowledge of the flow from each layer along the screened zone and of the chemical concentrations in each layer enables the total mass entering the well to be determined. Analyses of hypothetical systems and a site at Galloway, NJ, provide insight into the temporal variation of water-quality data observed when withdrawing water from screened wells in heterogeneous ground-water systems.

The analyses of hypothetical systems quantitatively indicate the cause-and-effect relations that cause temporal variability in water samples obtained from wells. Chemical constituents that have relatively uniform concentrations with depth may not show variations in concentrations in the water discharged from a well after the well is purged (evacuation of standing water in the well casing). However, chemical constituents that do not have uniform concentrations near the screened interval of the well may show variations in concentrations in the well discharge water after purging because of the physics of ground-water flow in the vicinity of the screen.

Water-quality samples were obtained through time over a 30 minute period from a site at Galloway, NJ. The water samples were analyzed for aromatic hydrocarbons, and the data for benzene, toluene, and meta+para xylene were evaluated for temporal variations. Samples were taken from seven discrete zones, and the flow-weighted concentrations of benzene, toluene, and meta+para xylene all indicate an increase in concentration over time during pumping. These observed trends in time were reproduced numerically based on the estimated concentration distribution in the aquifer and the flow rates from each zone.

The results of the hypothetical numerical experiments and the analysis of the field data both corroborate the impact of physical and chemical heterogeneity in the aquifer on water-quality samples obtained from wells. If temporal variations in concentrations of chemical constituents are observed, they may indicate variability in the ground-water system being sampled, which may give insight into the chemical distributions within the aquifer and provide guidance in the positioning of new sampling devices or wells.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of physical and chemical heterogeneity on water-quality samples obtained from wells
Series title Groundwater
DOI 10.1111/j.1745-6584.1993.tb00854.x
Volume 31
Issue 5
Year Published 1993
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Office of Ground Water, Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 9 p.
First page 805
Last page 813
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