Ground water is the principal source of drinking water for about 850,000 people in Puerto Rico (National Water Summary, 1985). Ground-water withdrawals for public supply, agricultural, and industrial water uses in Puerto Rico are about 250 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) (Torres-Sierra and Aviles, 1985). The development of the most accessible surface water supplies will result in an increasing demand for ground water.
Recent investigations conducted by the U. S. Geological Survey, WRD (USGS) have shown the presence of toxic synthetic organic chemicals in ground water throughout Puerto Rico (Gomez-Gomez and Guzman-Rios, 1982). Volatile synthetic organic chemicals (VOC's) have been detected in water from public water supply wells in concentrations ranging from 1 to 500 micrograms per liter (Guzman-Rios and Quinones-Marquez, 1984 and Guzman-Rios and Quinones-Marquez, 1985). As result of these findings, pumpage was discontinued at 6 wells operated by the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA), the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico agency responsible for public-water supply. Monitoring of 10 additional wells in the vicinity of those wells is being conducted by the USGS in cooperation with PRASA.
In 1985, the USGS began a comprehensive islandwide study of VOC's in drinking water. The study was conducted in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) and PRASA. Samples were collected from 243 public-water supply wells operated by PRASA (flgure 1).
The authors wish to acknowledge the support, assistance and cooperation of the PRASA staff throughout Puerto Rico in the sample collection effort. The authors are especially grateful to Engineer Carlos Garcia-Troche from the PRASA main office in San Juan.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Reconnaissance of Volatile Synthetic Organic Chemicals at Public Water Supply Wells Throughout Puerto Rico, November 1984-May 1985