Groundwater samples were collected from 15 production wells and 1 spring at 9 national park units in New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia in July and August 2011 and analyzed to characterize the quality of these water supplies. The sample sites generally were selected to represent areas of potential effects on water quality by drilling and development of gas wells in Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale areas of the northeastern United States. The groundwater samples were analyzed for 53 constituents, including nutrients, major inorganic constituents, trace elements, chemical oxygen demand, radioactivity, and dissolved gases, including methane and radon-222. Results indicated that the groundwater used for water supply at the selected national park units is generally of acceptable quality, although concentrations of some constituents exceeded at least one drinking-water guideline at several wells. Nine analytes were detected in concentrations that exceeded Federal drinking-water standards, mostly secondary standards that define aesthetic properties of water, such as taste and odor. One sample had an arsenic concentration that exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 micrograms per liter (μg/L). The pH, which is a measure of acidity (hydrogen ion activity), ranged from 4.8 to 8.4, and in 5 of the 16 samples, the pH values were outside the accepted U.S. Environmental Protection Agency secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) range of 6.5 to 8.5. The concentration of total dissolved solids exceeded the SMCL of 500 milligrams per liter (mg/L) at four sites. The sulfate concentration exceeded the SMCL of 250 mg/L concentration in one sample, and the fluoride concentration exceeded the SMCL of 2 mg/L in one sample. Sodium concentrations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking water health advisory of 60 mg/L at four sites. Iron concentrations exceeded the SMCL of 300 μg/L in two samples, and manganese concentrations exceeded the SMCL of 50 μg/L in five samples. Radon-222 concentrations exceeded the proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency MCL of 300 picocuries per liter in eight samples.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Baseline groundwater quality in national park units within the Marcellus and Utica Shale gas plays, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, 2011