Quality of Nevada's aquifers and their susceptibility to contamination, 1990-2004

Scientific Investigations Report 2006-5127




EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency introduced a rule to protect the quality of ground water in areas other than source-water protection areas. These other sensitive ground-water areas (OSGWA) are areas that are not currently but could eventually be used as a source of drinking water. To help determine whether a well is in an OSGWA, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection needs statewide information on the susceptibility and vulnerability of Nevada's aquifer systems to contamination. This report presents an evaluation of the quality of ground water and susceptibility of Nevada's aquifer systems to anthropogenic contamination. Chemical tracers and statistical methods were used to assess the susceptibility of aquifer systems in Nevada. Chemical tracers included nitrate, pesticides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), dissolved gases, and isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen. Ground-water samples were collected from 133 wells during August 2002 through October 2003. Logistic regression was done to estimate the probability of detecting nitrate above concentrations typically found in undeveloped areas. Nitrate is one of the most common anthropogenic contaminants that degrades ground-water quality, is commonly measured and is persistent, except in reducing conditions. These characteristics make nitrate a good indicator of aquifer susceptibility. Water-quality data for 5,528 wells were compiled into a database. The area around each well was characterized using information on explanatory variables that could be related to nitrate concentrations. Data also were used to characterize the quality of ground water in Nevada, including dissolved solids, nitrate, pesticide, and VOC concentrations.

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USGS Numbered Series
Quality of Nevada's aquifers and their susceptibility to contamination, 1990-2004
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Version 1.0
Year Published:
Contributing office(s):
Nevada Water Science Center
vi, 52 p.; 4 worksheets; 22 figs.; 8 tables
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