Water samples were collected from 7 community water system wells and 15 private domestic wells throughout the Genesee River Basin in New York State (downstream from the Pennsylvania border) from October 2005 through March 2006 and analyzed to characterize the chemical quality of ground water in the basin. The wells were selected to represent areas of greatest ground-water use and to provide a representative sampling from the 2,439 square-mile basin area in New York. Samples were analyzed for five physical properties and 226 constituents that included nutrients, major inorganic ions, trace elements, radionuclides, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, and bacteria.
The results show that ground water used for drinking water is generally of good quality in the Genesee River Basin, although concentrations of seven constituents exceeded drinking water standards. The cations that were detected in the highest concentrations were calcium, magnesium, and sodium; the anions that were detected in the greatest concentrations were bicarbonate, chloride, and sulfate. The predominant nutrient was nitrate, and nitrate concentrations were greater in samples from sand and gravel aquifers than in samples from bedrock aquifers. The trace elements barium, boron, cobalt, copper, and nickel were detected in every sample; the highest concentrations were barium, boron, chromium, iron, manganese, strontium, and lithium. Fourteen pesticides including seven pesticide degradates were detected in water from 12 of the 22 wells, but none of the concentrations exceeded Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs). Eight volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were detected in six samples, but none of the concentrations exceeded MCLs.
Seven chemical analytes and three types of bacteria were present in concentrations that exceeded Federal and New York State water-quality standards, which are typically identical. Sulfate concentrations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) of 250 milligrams per liter (mg/L) in three samples; the chloride SMCL (250 mg/L) was exceeded in one sample. Sodium concentrations exceeded the USEPA Drinking Water Health Advisory of 60 mg/L in five samples. The SMCL for iron (300 ug/L) was exceeded in 11 filtered samples; the USEPA SMCL for manganese (50 ug/L) was exceeded in 10 filtered samples, and the New York State MCL (300 ug/L) was exceeded in 1 filtered sample. The MCL for aluminum (200 ug/L) was exceeded in 1 sample, and the MCL for arsenic (10 ug/L) was exceeded in 1 sample. Radon-222 exceeded the proposed USEPA MCL of 300 picocuries per liter in 16 samples. Any detection of total coliform or fecal coliform bacteria is considered a violation of New York State health regulations; in this study, total coliform was detected in eight samples; fecal coliform was detected in two samples, and Escherichia coli was detected in one sample.