Sewage plume in a sand and gravel aquifer, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Open-File Report 82-274




Secondarily treated domestic sewage has been disposed of to a sand and gravel aquifer by infiltration through sand beds at Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts, since 1936. The disposal has formed a plume of contaminated ground water that is more than 11 ,000 feet long, is 2,500 to 3,500 feet wide and 75 feet thick, and is overlain by 20 to 50 feet of uncontaminated ground water derived from precipitation. The distributions of specific conductance, temperature, boron chloride, sodium, phosphorus, nitrogen, ammonia, nitrate, dissolved oxygen, and detergents are used to delineate the plume. The center of the plume contains up to 2.6 milligrams per liter detergents as MBAS (methylene blue active substances), 0.4 milligram per liter boron, 20 milligrams per liter ammonia-nitrogen, and specific conductance as high as 405 micromhos per centimeter. Corresponding levels in uncontaminated ground water are less than 0.1 milligram per liter detergents, less than 0.1 ammonia-nitrogen, less than 0.05 milligram per liter boron, and less than 80 micromhos per centimeter specific conductance. Chloride, sodium, and boron concentrations seem to be affected only by hydrodynamic dispersion. Phosphorus movement is greatly retarded by sorption. Detergent concentrations exceed 0.5 milligram per liter from 3 ,000 to 10,000 feet from the sand beds and reflect the use of nonbiodegradable detergents from 1946 through 1964. The center of the plume as far as 5,000 feet from the sand beds contains nitrogen as ammonia, no nitrate, and no dissolved oxygen. Ammonia is oxidized to nitrate gradually with distance from the center of the plume. (USGS)

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Sewage plume in a sand and gravel aquifer, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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Open-File Report
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U.S. Geological Survey,
iv, 39 p. :ill., maps ;28 cm.