The quality of our nation's waters: water quality in the Principal Aquifers of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Valley and Ridge regions, eastern United States, 1993-2009

Circular 1354
By: , and 

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Abstract

The aquifers of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Valley and Ridge regions underlie an area with a population of more than 40 million people in 10 states. The suburban and rural population is large, growing rapidly, and increasingly dependent on groundwater as a source of supply, with more than 550 million gallons per day withdrawn from domestic wells for household use. Water from some of these aquifers does not meet human-health benchmarks for drinking water for contaminants with geologic or human sources. Water from samples in crystalline- and siliciclastic-rock aquifers frequently exceeded standards for contaminants with geologic sources, and samples in carbonate-rock aquifers frequently exceeded standards for contaminants with human sources, most often nitrate and bacteria.

Major Findings

  • Many contaminants in groundwater have geologic sources, but geochemical conditions control whether or not those contaminants dissolve and move through groundwater
  • Concentrations of nitrate and bacteria—the main drinking-water contaminants with human sources—were high in carbonate-rock aquifers and frequently exceeded human-health benchmarks
  • Large contributions of nitrate and phosphorus from groundwater to streams have a negative effect on ecological health of estuaries, such as the Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle-Pamlico Sound

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title The quality of our nation's waters: water quality in the Principal Aquifers of the Piedmont, Blue Ridge, and Valley and Ridge regions, eastern United States, 1993-2009
Series title Circular
Series number 1354
DOI 10.3133/cir1354
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) National Water Quality Assessment Program
Description Report: viii, 107 p.; Report low resolution; Appendix; Data archive
Public Comments National Water-Quality Assessment Program
Time Range Start 1993-01-01
Time Range End 2009-12-31
Country United States
Other Geospatial Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Valley and Ridge regions
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y