The National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) began implementing Source Water-Quality Assessments (SWQAs) in 2002 that focus on characterizing the quality of source water and finished water of aquifers and major rivers used by some of the larger community water systems in the United States. As used for SWQA studies, source water is the raw (ambient) water collected at the supply well prior to water treatment (for ground water) or the raw (ambient) water collected from the river near the intake (for surface water). Finished water is the water that is treated, which typically involves, in part, the addition of chlorine or other disinfection chemicals to remove pathogens, and is ready to be delivered to consumers. Finished water is collected before the water enters the distribution system.
This report describes the study design and percent recoveries of anthropogenic organic compounds (AOCs) with and without the addition of ascorbic acid to preserve water samples containing free chlorine. The percent recoveries were determined by using analytical results from a laboratory study conducted in 2004 by the USGS's National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) and from data collected during 2004-06 for a field study currently (2008) being conducted by the USGS's NAWQA Program.
The laboratory study was designed to determine if preserving samples with ascorbic acid (quenching samples) adversely affects analytical performance under controlled conditions. During the laboratory study, eight samples of reagent water were spiked for each of five analytical schedules evaluated. Percent recoveries from these samples were then compared in two ways: (1) four quenched reagent spiked samples analyzed on day 0 were compared with four quenched reagent spiked samples analyzed on day 7 or 14, and (2) the combined eight quenched reagent spiked samples analyzed on day 0, 7, or 14 were compared with eight laboratory reagent spikes (LRSs). Percent recoveries from the quenched reagent spiked samples that were analyzed at two different times (day 0 and day 7 or 14) can be used to determine the stability of the quenched samples held for an amount of time representative of the normal amount of time between sample collection and analysis. The comparison between the quenched reagent spiked samples and the LRSs can be used to determine if quenching samples adversely affects the analytical performance under controlled conditions.
The field study began in 2004 and is continuing today (February 2008) to characterize the effect of quenching on field-matrix spike recoveries and to better understand the potential oxidation and transformation of 277 AOCs. Three types of samples were collected from 11 NAWQA Study Units across the Nation: (1) quenched finished-water samples (not spiked), (2) quenched finished-water spiked samples, and (3) nonquenched finished-water spiked samples. Percent recoveries of AOCs in quenched and nonquenched finished-water spiked samples collected during 2004-06 are presented. Comparisons of percent recoveries between quenched and nonquenched spiked samples can be used to show how quenching affects finished-water samples. A maximum of 6 surface-water and 7 ground-water quenched finished-water spiked samples paired with nonquenched finished-water spiked samples were analyzed. Analytical results for the field study are presented in two ways: (1) by surface-water supplies or ground-water supplies, and (2) by use (or source) group category for surface-water and ground-water supplies. Graphical representations of percent recoveries for the quenched and nonquenched finished-water spiked samples also are presented.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Study design and percent recoveries of anthropogenic organic compounds with and without the addition of ascorbic acid to preserve water samples containing free chlorine, 2004-06
U.S. Geological Survey
South Dakota Water Science Center, Dakota Water Science Center