The Federal Clean Water Act Amendments of 1977 require that States monitor and report on the quality of ground water and surface water. To satisfy part of these requirements, the U.S. Geological Survey and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have developed a program in which ground-water quality is assessed in 2 to 3 of New York State's 14 major basins each year. To characterize the quality of ground water in the Delaware River Basin in New York, water samples were collected from December 2005 to February 2006 from 10 wells finished in bedrock. Data from 9 samples collected from wells finished in sand and gravel in July and August 2001 for the National Water Quality Assessment Program also are included. Ground-water samples were collected and processed using standard U.S. Geological Survey procedures. Samples were analyzed for more than 230 properties and compounds, including physical properties, major ions, nutrients, trace elements, radon-222, pesticides and pesticide degradates, volatile organic compounds, and bacteria.
Concentrations of most compounds were less than drinking-water standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and New York State Department of Health; many of the organic analytes were not detected in any sample. Drinking-water standards that were exceeded at some sites include those for color, turbidity, pH, aluminum, arsenic, iron, manganese, radon-222, and bacteria. pH ranged from 5.6 to 8.3; the pH of nine samples was less than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secondary drinking-water standard range of 6.5 to 8.5. Water in the basin is generally soft to moderately hard (hardness 120 milligrams per liter as CaCO3 or less). The cation with the highest median concentration was calcium; the anion with the highest median concentrations was bicarbonate. Nitrate was the predominant nutrient detected but no sample exceeded the 10 mg/L U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level. The trace elements detected with the highest median concentrations were strontium and iron in unfiltered water and strontium and barium in filtered water. Concentrations of trace elements in several samples exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secondary drinking-water standards, including aluminum (50-200 micrograms per liter, three wells), arsenic (10 micrograms per liter, one well), iron (300 micrograms per liter, three wells), and manganese (50 micrograms per liter, four wells).
The median concentration of radon-222 was 1,580 picoCuries per liter. Radon-222 is not currently regulated, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a maximum contaminant level of 300 picoCuries per liter along with an alternative maximum contaminant level of 4,000 picoCuries per liter, to be in effect in states that have programs to address radon in indoor air. Concentrations of radon-222 exceeded the proposed maximum contaminant level in all 19 of the samples and exceeded the proposed alternative maximum contaminant level in 1 sample. Eleven pesticides and pesticide degradates were detected in samples from ten wells; all were herbicides or herbicide degradates. Three volatile organic compounds were detected, including disinfection byproducts such as trichloromethane and gasoline components or additives such as methyl tert-butyl ether. No pesticides, pesticide degradates, or volatile organic compounds were detected above established limits. Coliform bacteria were detected in samples from five wells, four of which were finished in sand and gravel; Escherichia coli was not detected in any sample.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-Water Quality in the Delaware River Basin, New York, 2001 and 2005-2006