In 2001, the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program of the U.S. Geological Survey began a series of studies on the transport of anthropogenic and natural contaminants (TANC) to public-supply wells. The main goal of the TANC program was to better understand the source, transport, and receptor factors that control contaminant movement to public-supply wells in representative aquifers of the United States. Studies were first conducted at regional scales at four of the eight TANC study areas during 2002-03 and at small (local) scales during 2003-05 in California, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Florida.
In the Temple Terrace study area near Tampa, Florida, multiple chemical indicators and geochemical and ground-water flow modeling techniques were used to assess the vulnerability of a public-supply well in the karstic Upper Floridan aquifer to contamination from anthropogenic and naturally occurring contaminants. During 2003-05, water samples were collected from the public-supply well and 13 surrounding monitoring wells that all tap the Upper Floridan aquifer, and from 15 monitoring wells in the overlying surficial aquifer system and the intermediate confining unit that are located within the modeled ground-water contributing recharge area of the public-supply well.
Six volatile organic compounds and four pesticides were detected in trace concentrations (well below drinking-water standards) in water from the public-supply well, which had an open interval from 36 to 53 meters below land surface. These contaminants were detected more frequently in water samples from monitoring wells in the overlying clastic surficial aquifer system than in water from monitoring wells in the Upper Floridan aquifer in the study area. Likewise, nitrate-N concentrations in the public-supply well (0.72-1.4 milligrams per liter) were more similar to median concentrations in the oxic surficial aquifer system (2.1 milligrams per liter) than to median nitrate-N concentrations in the anoxic Upper Floridan aquifer (0.06 milligram per liter) under sulfate-reducing conditions. High concentrations of radon-222 and uranium in the public-supply well compared to those in monitoring wells in the Upper Floridan aquifer appear to originate from water moving downward through sands and discontinuous clay lenses that overlie the aquifer.
Water samples also were collected from three overlapping depth intervals (38-53, 43-53, and 49-53 meters below land surface) in the public-supply well. The 49- to 53-meter interval was identified as a high-flow zone during geophysical logging of the wellbore. Water samples were collected from these depth intervals at a low pumping rate by placing a low-capacity submersible pump (less than 0.02 cubic meter per minute) at the top of each interval. To represent higher pumping conditions, a large-capacity portable submersible pump (1.6 cubic meters per minute) was placed near the top of the open interval; water-chemistry samples were collected using the low-capacity submersible pump. The 49- to 53-meter depth interval had distinctly different chemistry than the other two sampled intervals. Higher concentrations of nitrate-N, atrazine, radon, trichloromethane (chloroform), and arsenic (and high arsenic (V)/arsenic (III) ratios); lower concentrations of dissolved solids, strontium, iron, manganese, and lower nitrogen and sulfur isotope ratios were found in this highly transmissive zone in the limestone than in water from the two other depth intervals.
Movement of water likely occurs from the overlying sands and clays of the oxic surficial aquifer system and intermediate confining unit (that contains high radon-222 and nitrate-N concentrations) into the anoxic Upper Floridan aquifer (that contains low radon-222 and nitrate-N concentrations). Differences in arsenic concentrations in water from the various depth intervals in the public-supply well (3.2-19.0 micrograms per liter) were related to pumping conditions. The high arsenic
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Chemical Characteristics, Water Sources and Pathways, and Age Distribution of Ground Water in the Contributing Recharge Area of a Public-Supply Well near Tampa, Florida, 2002-05